Illustration by Tala Nassar
Last weekend, NYU Abu Dhabi hosted the NYUAD Futsal Festival for the second consecutive year. Organized by NYUAD Athletics, the festival had eleven men’s teams and three women's teams compete. The tournament operated in a group stage, knockout round format, with eight men’s teams and two women’s teams qualifying for the knockout rounds. NYUAD fielded three men’s teams, two of which qualified for the knockout stages, and one women’s team, which was the champion of the women’s tournament.
Last year, when NYUAD hosted the first Futsal Festival, all of the other women’s teams who had signed up backed out just before the event. Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Athletics Peter Dicce said that regardless of the other teams not showing up last year, the NYUAD women’s team played a match on their own.
“I thought it was important that they play for a number of reasons: to show that they are talented players who can get out there and play regardless of gender, and they played in front of a male dominated crowd and male referees who, at the end, were impressed with what they saw. If you want to change attitudes and perceptions, you have to go through those stages. I’m convinced that going through that last year helped nudge that forward this year,” said Dicce.
This year, the other women’s teams did not cancel. The NYUAD women’s team won the women’s final 1-0 on a goal from Caroline Sullivan, Class of 2021.
“It was a great opportunity to come together as a team because we really haven’t had too many practices since the end of the season… even though we’ve been practicing sporadically, this was a good opportunity for a small group of us to come together and play in a competitive setting again,” said Sullivan.
“We take the tournament as an opportunity for us to continue playing, to continue developing. The three teams we put in were evenly balanced teams... It’s an opportunity for us to go out and play a little,” added Dicce.
The participating teams were mostly from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Dicce said it is possible that the Futsal Festival will expand in coming years and potentially attract teams from abroad, but right now it is just focused on the UAE.
“I don’t know where [the tournament] will head, but as of right now it’s just a nice weekend where we get to play a number of matches,” said Dicce.
Currently, teams do not have to pay any sort of registration fee to compete. The Futsal Festival is scheduled to be held again next year, with even more teams likely to participate.
Dicce also mentioned that futsal and 3-on-3 basketball are being considered as potential trial sports in the Abu Dhabi Inter-University Sports League in the coming years.
*Herbert Crowther is News Editor. Email him at [email protected]*