The UAE’s most promising sport stars are choosing online education to help them compete at the very highest level.
Samir Malas is a classic example of the trend – a 12-year-old basketball prodigy who completes his education from home through Dubai-based iCademy Middle East.
Morning fitness programmes are followed by education online before he heads off to compete and train at basketball facilities across the UAE. Samir already competes at under 18 level and in addition to basketball is ranked as one of the four best swimmers for his age in the UAE.
The youngster’s father, Akram Malas, said joining iCademy two years ago had been a huge boost to the boy’s sporting progress.
He said: “The iCademy courses have really been the answer to a solid education and making the most of his sporting talent. At first there were people concerned about whether Samir’s education would suffer but it has been the exact opposite and he is doing extremely well in all areas.
“As you would expect he loves and wants to focus on basketball – but as a parent you have to balance that passion, so he has all options open when he becomes an adult.
“The road we are looking at is high school education and then a scholarship that once again keeps his basketball progressing. It was not an easy decision, but I know a lot of parents in the UAE are looking at online education if they have gifted sporting children – it can be the best of both worlds.”
Central to how iCademy Middle East helps those with sporting talents are NCAA courses – high school qualifications designed to give them core skills such as maths and languages.
There are currently more than 30 sporting boys and girls learning at iCademy, ranging from footballers to go-karters to gymnasts and swimmers.
Cody Claver, General Manager at iCademy Middle East, said: “iCademy Middle East provides an all-encompassing program for students requiring a unique schedule. With our Online School athletes can build their academic schedules around training, traveling and competing anywhere in the world, while accessing NCAA eligible courses.”