NYUAD Football Builds International Relations During Trip to Qatar

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 ’14), 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.

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 ’14) 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 ’14) 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 ’14), “Ole[g], Ole[g], Ole[g]!”

Sunday the 23rd proved both challenging and rewarding. After another light morning practice, the team headed to the American School of Doha for their match. Hopes were high when the game began, but NYUAD fell behind on a lucky shot that managed to escape the grasp of goalkeeper Attilio Rigotti (NYUAD ’14). An opportunity for redemption followed when the referee awarded NYUAD a penalty. Manuel Nivia’s (NYUAD ’14) first successful attempt was dubiously disallowed before his second shot unfortunately went over the bar. The match finished 1-nil to the home side and the NYUAD team was left to rue their missed chances. Coach Dicce encouraged the team to focus on making simple passes and to keep the game in front of them — sound advice they would take into their upcoming matches.

After a short break, the team travelled back to Education City for a series of indoor six-on-six matches against the Academic Bridge Program. The four games were fast and competitive, though once again, the home team emerged victorious. After such a long day of football, nothing was needed more than a good meal. Both teams quickly bonded over the all-you-can-eat buffet at Ponderosa Steakhouse. Vivek Mukherjee (NYUAD ’14) had an important intercultural experience when he first learned how to operate a soft-serve ice cream machine. Throughout the evening, the Bridge Program students’ generosity was quite impressive. Each member of the NYU Abu Dhabi team was presented with a gift bag, as well as the warm hospitality of a welcomed guest. When the two teams reluctantly said goodbye, everyone was looking forward to waking up a bit late for our last day in Doha.

Monday the 24th proved to be the happy foil to Sunday’s on-field struggles. An early afternoon match with the students from Qatar Academy finished 3-1 to NYU Abu Dhabi. David Bassini Ortiz (NYUAD ’14) scored the first two goals with Joseph Juma (NYUAD ’14) clinching the win in the second half. The trip concluded with two more winning efforts against the six-on-six indoor teams of Carnegie Mellon and Georgetown. Clearly NYUAD’s goal drought had ended as several players including Musbah Dilsebo Ormago and Mohammad Omer (both NYUAD ’14) found the goal. Attilio Rigotti was even chosen by the Georgetown coach as match MVP for his acrobatic goalkeeping performance. Rigotti later thanked his teammates for making his birthday such a good one through their victorious play.

Upon arriving back in Abu Dhabi late Monday night, Coach Dicce singled out Xiaohua Liu (NYUAD ’14) for special praise, citing his growth both on and off the field. He also expressed pride in the effort shown by each player and the way in which they represented NYUAD. And every player commented on how the trip had brought them together truly as brothers. The team is hoping to build on this experience and organize more competitive opportunities throughout the region in the years to come.

  • Khalifa Stadium in Qatar
  • Arriving at the Airport
  • Jordan and Uzbekistan Take the Field
  • Uzbekistan Fan Section
  • Jordan Fan Section
  • Jordan v. Uzbekistan
  • Jordan v. Uzbekistan
  • Jordan v. Uzbekistan
  • Watching Jordan v. Uzbekistan
  • Walking to MIA
  • Doha Museum of Islamic Art
  • Doha Museum of Islamic Art
  • Doha Museum of Islamic Art
  • Team Photo at MIA
  • South Korea and Iran Take the Field
  • Korean Squad
  • Iran Squad
  • South Korea v. Iran
  • South Korea v. Iran
  • South Korea v. Iran
  • Celebrating Korea's Goal
  • NYUAD Warming Up
  • Ready for the Match
  • Team Photo at American School of Doha
  • NYUAD v. American School of Doha
  • NYUAD v. American School of Doha
  • NYUAD v. American School of Doha
  • NYUAD v. American School of Doha
  • Coach Pete Dicce
  • Indoor Match v. Qatar Academic Bridge Program
  • NYUAD and Qatar Academy Bridge Program
  • Hanging Out at the Hotel
  • Hanging Out at Doha Cultural Village
  • NYUAD Warming Up
  • NYUAD Warming Up
  • NYUAD v. Qatar Academy
  • NYUAD v. Qatar Academy
  • Team Photo at Education City

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