Australian cricketing hero Adam Gilchrist AM today presented the first annual University of Wollongong in Dubai sports award in his name – to a budding young cricketer who is also a wicket-keeper and left-handed batsman.
Gilchrist and University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE visited the UOWD campus in Dubai’s Knowledge Village to present the first annual Adam Gilchrist Sports Award.
Gilchrist, the dynamic wicket-keeper/batsman who captained Australia’s Test team to a series win over India during his long and glittering international career, is a Brand Ambassador for the University of Wollongong, Australia.
The new sports award marks an extension to UOWD’s current range of grants that reward academic excellence. The award, open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, provides the recipient with a 50 per cent waiver on UOWD tuition fees throughout their chosen degree - subject to the recipient enrolling in and achieving the set minimum academic standard - making the award worth several thousand dirhams. The recipient must also have actively participated in all practice sessions and competitions for the UOWD sports team on which he/she is a member.
Ritik Bagchi, a student of the Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting program, is the first recipient of the Adam Gilchrist Sports Award, which will be awarded to one student annually on commencement of their studies in the September semester at UOWD.
Ritik is a fitting recipient for the inaugural award, sharing a number of sporting credentials with the famous cricketer. Like Gilchrist, Ritik is a wicket-keeper and left-handed, top-order batsman, whose outstanding performance at school level earned him a place in the UAE under 16 and under 17 national team squads. At the age of just 14, he played for the UAE under 17s in the Asian Cricket Council Elite Cup in Nepal, and has also represented the country at tournaments in India and Thailand.
In 2011, Ritik was awarded a scholarship from the ICC Global Cricket Academy to train amongst an elite squad, and in 2012 he received a Special Category Award in Sports for exemplary sporting performance across his school teams. In addition to his cricketing skills, Ritik is a keen footballer and is active in a range of extra-curricular pursuits, including taking on the role of official photographer for other school events.
UOWD has a strong sporting tradition and the University’s teams have built an enviable reputation as high achievers in national competitions. The introduction of this new award will give Ritik, and sports stars of the future, the opportunity to benefit from the best standards of Australian education while pursuing their athletic interests at the highest level in the UAE.
“This is a great initiative from the University of Wollongong in Dubai, and I feel honoured to have such an award in my name,” Gilchrist said. “It is quite a coincidence that the first recipient should also be a wicket-keeper and a left-handed batsman. I hope I can pass on a few tips to help Ritik to further his cricket career, and I know he is in good hands with his education. UOWD has an outstanding reputation and I wish him well with his studies.”
The launch of the new award is part of an official visit by Gilchrist and Professor Wellings to UOWD for a series of engagements marking the culmination of UOWD’s 20th anniversary celebrations, including a reception at the Australian Ambassador’s residence in Abu Dhabi.
During his campus visit, Gilchrist met with UOWD staff, students and local school children, providing tips on how to be a successful cricketer. He also gave an inspiring speech, signed autographs for the gathered crowd, and took part in a lively Q&A session in a packed lecture theatre.
Professor Wellings said: “Adam Gilchrist continues to inspire young people around the world with his deeds on the cricket field and the honourable way in which he played the game, so it is fitting that UOWD has established this sports award in his name to inspire and support future students.”