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Queens of clubs
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 02 - 02 - 2016

Under the slogan ‘Your World, Your Court', the third edition of the Arab Women Sports Tournament is currently being held in Sharjah in the UAE from 2 to 12 February. The 10-day event will have 55 clubs from 17 Arab countries taking part in basketball, volleyball, shooting, fencing, table tennis, archery, athletics and show jumping.
For the past several months tournament director Nada Al-Naqbi has been criss-crossing the Arab world to personally invite Arab clubs to participate in the Games, on behalf of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohamed Al-Qasimi, wife of the ruler of Sharjah and chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. In January, Al-Naqbi visited Egypt to invite the country's clubs to take part in the tournament. At a press conference at the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Cairo Al-Naqbi delivered an official invitation to Egypt's Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz on behalf of Sheikha Jawaher.
On the sidelines of the tournament, the organisers are hosting the first symposium for Arab Women Sports Media. More than 40 female sports journalists from the Arab world are expected to attend the one-day symposium on 4 February where they will have the chance to share and exchange their work experiences, the obstacles they face and the challenges ahead.
Four Egyptian clubs are taking part in the event: Sporting of Alexandria and Ittihad Al-Shorta in the fencing and archery events, Port Fouad club in the track and field and The Equestrian Club in the show jumping competition. Four Egyptian girls had started the Equestrian show jumping competition on Tuesday morning before the opening ceremony which took place in the evening. Abdel-Aziz said Arab sportswomen deserve to be supported for all the efforts they are making and results they have been achieving whether at national, regional or international levels. “Arab sportswomen have become world and Olympic champions. They have beaten all the obstacles they faced until they became champions. This Arab tournament is a big event and a great opportunity for Arab girls to meet, compete, gain experience and improve their performance levels. We believe that the third edition will be a spectacular and outstanding event,” Abdel-Aziz said.
He added that he had hoped that Egypt would have entered more clubs in this big event.
The Arab Women Sports Tournament is a biennial event which has since its launching in 1997 been recognised as a Gulf Cooperation Council tournament. During its massive success, it attracted several clubs from other Arab countries which expressed their desire to take part. “In light of this progress, Sheikha Jawaher envisioned expanding the tournament to a bigger scale by including Arab countries therefore making it the biggest, if not the only one of its kind, in the region,” Al-Naqbi said.
“The inaugural tournament kicked off with five sports in 2012 including basketball, volleyball, table tennis, shooing and athletics and included archery and fencing in the second edition in 2014 with over 900 players from 54 clubs in 13 countries.
“This year, 2016, we welcome the third edition of the tournament with the long- awaited addition of show jumping, making a total of eight sports,” Al-Naqbi added.
Most importantly, Al-Naqbi pointed out the main goals from the event. “This event is a unique chance for sportswomen to raise awareness and change the societal views and perception about female athletes; refine the skills of Arab and Gulf female athletes in different sports; support female athletes to pursue a profession in their field of interest; stimulate the spirit of competitiveness among Arab female athletes in individual and team sports; promote a healthy sporting spirit and fair competition as a primary element for the representatives of this tournament; and spread knowledge about the positive impact of sports and athletics on one's health.”
Al-Naqbi told Al-Ahram Weekly that the organisers had invited international figures from the sports world to attend the event. “It is important for us to show them how Arab women's sports have developed in the region. They should witness the event to see for themselves how our sportswomen have reached world-class level standards in competitive sports. We also intend to invite previous Arab sportswomen who were Olympic medalists, as role models for the women,” Al-Naqbi said.

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