Following the successful completion of NYU Abu Dhabi's first J-Term, 20 students and three coaches flew to Doha, Qatar, representing the NYUAD football team. They hoped to use sports not only as a means to see the world, but to build international relationships and develop a stronger sense of family amongst the team. For four days, through both victory and defeat, they learned the true values of sportsmanship and friendship.
For Ty Karaba and Madhav Vaidyanathan (both NYUAD Class of 2014), the trip began with a 10.5-hour flight from Shanghai to Dubai. When their flight arrived late, the two students made up for missed practices by making a mad dash through the airport with Assistant Coach Vic Lindsay to board their connecting flight. The run helped to knock the rust off their football skills and got them in condition to play. Coach Pete Dicce, along with Assistant Coach Tucker Russell, led the remaining 18 students from the Abu Dhabi airport. Through the magic of international time zones, both groups took off from their respective airports at 3pm on January 21 and landed instantaneously in Doha, where it was still exactly 3pm. After settling into their hotel, the group journeyed to Khalifa International Stadium to watch Uzbekistan take on Jordan in the Asian Cup Quarterfinals. While both teams failed to score in the first 45 minutes, Uzbekistan broke the deadlock in dramatic fashion when striker Ulukbek Bakaev scored two goals within two minutes to open the second half. Jordan scored shortly after, but was unable to find an equalizer.
Saturday the 22nd began with a light training session at Qatar Academy in Doha's Education City. After warming up, Coach Dicce put the players through a variety of technical drills. The focus of this session was to ensure that everyone was physically and mentally ready to play without over-taxing anyone's stamina for the games ahead. An afternoon visit to the Museum of Islamic Art followed and offered a relaxing cultural interlude to a trip otherwise focused on athletics.
They hoped to use sports not only as a means to see the world, but to build international relationships and develop a stronger sense of family amongst the team.
That evening, the team enjoyed dinner at Education City with students from the Doha campuses of VCU, Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M, Northwestern, and Georgetown. Using pizza as a vehicle for international relations, the students became fast friends as they mingled and swapped stories of their international experiences. The cohort, which had grown to more than 50 people, then traveled to Qatar Sports Club for the Quarterfinal match between South Korea and Iran. Jin U Bak and Tae Young Kang, both NYUAD Class of 2014, helped lead chants of "Dae han min guk" from the front row of the stadium throughout the match. The two were absolutely elated when substitute Bit-garam Yoon scored in added time to win the game. Persian-American Nasser Siadat, NYUAD Class of 2014, was equally excited after a celebrity encounter with Iranian goalkeeper Seyed Mehdi Rahamti. Siadat had gone to the player's tunnel after the game hoping to get some goalkeeping advice, but wound up coming home with Rahmati's match gloves. Later, as the group waited outside the stadium for their bus, students and passing fans alike sang of NYU Abu Dhabi's Russian talisman Oleg Shenderyuk, NYUAD Class of 2014, "Ole[g], Ole[g], Ole[g]!"