Saudi women bowled over by Cairo tournament experience
Last week I was honored to supervize the Saudi Arabian women’s bowling team during their first tournament outside the Kingdom. The team took part in the fifth edition of the Women’s Arab Bowling Championship in Cairo. The team was created at the beginning of last year and competed only at the three championships held for women last October. However, it was a totally different experience for the team in Egypt, as they took on professionals in individual, doubles, trio, team, and masters events.
It was too much to expect them to return with medals but they did learn a lot and only benefited from the experience. Last year many federations, including ours, welcomed women being allowed to take part in sport and simply asked them to have fun.
In turn, society showed support for women becoming more active. My own experience illustrates the support women have received — my students at the University of Business and Technology (UBT) have been tremendously supportive, as has UBT chairman Dr. Abdullah Dahlan, who announced that he will open a new bowling lane for women on their new campus.
Meanwhile, our Saudi Bowling Federation (SBF) president Bader Al-Alsheikh continues to promote the sport. Before the championship kicked off, he started a campaign on Twitter through the hashtag #BowlingIsFun, which became very popular. The team spread it and the message it carried among the participating countries, all for the love of bowling. This also brought more bowling fans together from around the Arab world.
It was a historic occasion and here are the lessons we can learn from it.
Society has shown support for women becoming more active ... my own experience illustrates the support women have received.
Dr. Razan Baker
To begin with, the team learned that their lifestyle should change. They learned to never underestimate their competitors and that they need to work harder on their techniques to excel. They learned values that can only be acquired through such experiences. They now know what it means to be a true team member and how to support each other. They learned how to act like a team, and when one misses a point the other needs to have her back. They learned about the psychology of bowling and how others can master that to affect their competitors. They learned the big responsibility of representing their country.
The most important thing, however, is that they learned they could achieve a lot if they worked hard.
“I used to see bowlers who have been bowling for 10 or 20 years without achieving anything, they made me lose hope. But then when
I worked on myself, I knew that if I had a goal, I can reach it but I have to look for it, not to wait for it to reach me,” said a member of the Saudi men’s team to the women.
He added: “Never go to the lanes without a goal, always take on a skill to master so your day will be fruitful, and your time well invested.”
I believe these are golden words which can be transferred to any sport. True champions do go that extra mile and that is what makes them unique and distinguished. Dana Alfaraj, Nahla Adas, Mashael Abdulwahid, and Ghada Nimir made history in Cairo and all eyes will be on them in their next competition.
Finally, I am happy to reveal that another women’s bowling team was initiated in Saudi Arabia this year for the deaf. I wish them all the best of luck and support because they deserve it too, and bowling is for everyone after all.
- Dr. Razan Baker is a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Bowling Federation, a specialist in corporate social responsibility in sports, and a sports columnist and journalist. Twitter: @RazanBaker