The awaited annual Big Games lit up the university campus with parades, celebrations, entertainment, an honoring of players, and a series of heated games. The AUB traditional annual sports games came this year under the umbrella of AUB’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Alumni of AUB will remember the long tradition of annual games that were held between primarily varsity and junior varsity athletes from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Over the years, the latter came to also include athletes from the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB), Faculty of Medicine (FM), Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences (FAFS), and Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) – and since 2015 was named the United Faculties team.
This year’s Big Games featured basketball, volleyball, handball, futsal, football, and rugby league games, which took place between 18 and 22 April. All games were co-ed and played indoors except for football (all male) and rugby league (separate game per gender) played on the AUB Greenfield. This year’s additions to the Big Games list were the handball game and the women’s rugby league game.
The basketball co-ed game kicked off strong on April 18. The United faculties held the lead to end the game with a score of 77-48 in their favor. Major celebrations followed as this was the United Faculties’ first win in five years.
On the same day, handball made its first appearance at AUB with the creation of the women’s handball team this year. The co-ed game was a very close call, with both teams defending their goals. Eventually, FEA used a new offensive tactic in the last five minutes and took over the game, ending it with a score of 44-30 to its favor.
The next day in the series of games, on the 19th, both the volleyball and futsal co-ed games were played. The volleyball game was a heated one that started with the FEA team securing the first set easily. The United Faculties team, however, came back strong to win the next set and tie the game at 1-1. The third set was an exciting wrap that ended the game with 2-1 in favor of the United Faculties.
Agribusiness Senior Captain Gianni Hammoudeh presenting the trophy to FAFS Dean Nahla Hwalla, after the United Faculties’ victory in the Rugby League Big Game
The FEA team ended the first half of the futsal (mini-football) Big Game with a score of 2-0 in their favor. In the second half, the FEA attackers took over the game despite United Faculties’ defense efforts. The game ended in a big win for FEA, with a score of 11-2.
The oldest and biggest of the Big Games was football. A huge crowd of supporters watched as a parade of the 19 varsity teams of AUB walked to the green oval with a marching band. President Fadlo Khuri, Interim Provost Muhamad Harajli, deans of the different faculties, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the AUB community gathered to watch the ritual of heated rivalry between FEA and the United Faculties team. The celebration included folkloric dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics entertainment before the game as well as during halftime. Music, food stands, and family gatherings added to the bustle.
A thrilling game kicked off with both teams playing their best to secure the win for their respective faculties, through the loud cheering from the audience that filled the bleachers. The FEA team dominated the first half and translated a counter attack into the game’s first goal by Ghassan Ibrahim for FEA to lead 1-0 at halftime. United faculties came back strong in the second half and tied the game with ten minutes left in the second half when Ali Olleik from OSB scored a goal, to end the official time with a score of 1-1. Both teams gathered at midfield to start the penalties. The tension and excitement of players and coaches was at its peak with a save from FEA’s goalkeeper. Crowds wearing FEA’s red t-shirts filled the field announcing FEA as this year’s winner (6-7 in penalties).
President Khuri handed cups to the respective deans of the winning teams as well as medals to first and second participants for all the Big Games. At the end of the football game, President Khuri presented a cup to football Most Valuable Player, Ghassan Ibrahim from FEA, and the winning team captain, Wael Daou.
On its first year, the women’s rugby league Big Game was a huge success. The game was closely contested, with an impressive display of skills and defense ending the first half in a tie (8-8). United faculties started the second half with a strong offense and slowly dominated the rest of the game. The game ended with a score of 22-12 for the United Faculties.
The last game was the men’s rugby league Big Game which took place on April 22. The anticipated challenge between FEA’s “FEAR” and the “United Faculties” teams proved to be a physically contested battle with both teams looking to win for their respective faculties. With a man of the match performance from Hadi Hamdan (FAS), the United Faculties defeated FEA with a score of 26-4.
Captain Gianni Hammoudeh (FAFS) presented the men’s RL trophy to a delighted Dean Nahla Hwalla (see picture) and it now holds pride of place in the FAFS Dean’s office.