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Ladies first
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 16 - 02 - 2016

The third Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST 2016) recently concluded with the Sharjah Ladies Club (SLC) winning the last medal of the tournament, a basketball gold. SLC took first place after defeating the Jordanian Orthodox Club in the final 66-42. The Egyptian Sporting Club finished third for the bronze medal after beating the Algerian side Olympic 67-43.
Sporting had failed to make it to the final after losing 66-68 to SLC in the semi-final. However, Sporting was victorious in one way when its player Sara Zakaria was named the best playmaker in the tournament.
Being a club tournament, the AWST medal standings was counted according to clubs, not nations, even if more than one club from the same country took part in the event. Accordingly, the Algerian Youth Club had the highest number of medals, 17 in total, including nine gold, five silver and three bronze. The Bahraini Al Hala Club came second with 15 medals, including nine gold, three silver and three bronze. Sharjah Ladies Club came third after it increased its medal haul to 25, including three gold, 11 silver and 11 bronze, while Al Bahrain Club finished fourth with 13 medals -- three gold, four silver and six bronze.
Four Egyptian clubs participated in five sports: Gezira which took part in the equestrian, Port Fouad in athletics, Police Federation in archery and Sporting in basketball and fencing.
Egypt's clubs all won medals. Despite taking part with only four athletes, Port Fouad managed to win five medals: one gold, two silver and two bronze in athletics. The Police Federation claimed two gold medals in archery team and individual events. Interestingly, Police comprised three sisters, Nada, Aya and Rana Mamdouh Diab. Nada won the individual gold medal.
Besides the basketball bronze medal, Sporting of Alexandria dominated the fencing by winning two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. A team consisting of Nardine Ihab, Norhan Ossama and Sara Tamer claimed the teams' event gold medal. The same team also clinched three medals of the individual event with Ihab the gold, Ossama the silver and Tamer the bronze.
The Gezira Equestrian Club took silver in the individual event and bronze in the team event.
Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, head of AWST's Supreme Organising Committee, praised the performances of clubs and congratulated the Sharjah Ladies Club on an excellent overall performance. “The tournament was wonderfully well organised and a huge success thanks to the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi and the hard work of the organising committee. All the participating Arab delegations have lauded the exceptional organisation of the tournament,” Sheikh Khalid said.
“The tournament is designed to contribute to the development of Arab women's sport and we also seek to encourage every girl, woman and mother to exercise and make physical activities part of their lifestyle,” said Sheikha Hayat bint Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, board member of the Bahrain Olympic Committee. “We look forward to seeing more Arab female athletes compete globally as a result of AWST particularly because this is the only exclusively Arab women's sports tournament held on this scale,” added Sheikha Hayat who is also chairwoman of the Bahrain Women and Sport Committee and head of AWST's supervisory and follow-up committee.
Nada Al Naqbi, deputy head of AWST's Supreme Organising Committee, and head of the executive committee and tournament manager, congratulated Sheikha Jawaher on the “major success” of the tournament. Al Naqbi said the Supreme Organising Committee will start planning for AWST 2018 immediately, adding there will be major developments. Al Naqbi thanked the Arab media and sponsors for their support saying they had been instrumental to the tournament's success. She also highlighted the role played by the companies and sponsors which “contributed greatly” to the tournament's success.
“I also thank the UAE's wise leadership, especially the care and support extended by the Mother of the UAE, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, Chairperson of the General Women's Union and Chairwoman of Motherhood and Childhood Supreme Council,” said Al Naqbi.
What was billed as the first ever female sports journalist forum was held alongside the two-week tournament under the slogan ‘It's Your Turn' which aimed to highlight the challenges facing female sports journalists and to enhance their status across the Arab world.
The forum concluded with five recommendations, which included helping more women into sports media which includes finding solutions for support and more sponsors. Second was the need to work on increasing the role of women in sports journalism by organising more workshops related to sports journalism. Cooperation between media organisations was stated to be urgently needed to enable women's sports more broadcasting time. Another recommendation was to prepare a strategy to develop the skills of female players and administrators in the various sports federations. The final recommendation was to give more attention to award-winners, promoting them as models for future generations.
The tournament saw the participation of more than 1,000 athletes representing 58 clubs from 18 Arab countries competing in eight sports, including basketball, volleyball, table tennis, fencing, archery, shooting, athletics, and show jumping, which was making its first appearance in the tournament.
AWST is held under the patronage of Sheikha Jawaher, wife of the ruler of Sharjah and chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. She thanked the organising committee for all the effort they had exerted which led to bringing out a “spectacular and outstanding tournament.
“I also thank all media representatives of the press, radio and TV for their coverage of the event as well as our sponsors. The contribution of both the media and our sponsors has made them our partners of success.”
Sheikha Jawaher called on Arab societies to continue their work towards nurturing women's sports in the region “and leading our sportswomen to finding their way to the podiums of international events”.

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