‘Just chase your dream,’ Farah Jefry, footballer and Adidas brand ambassador, tells Saudi girls

‘Just chase your dream,’ Farah Jefry, footballer and Adidas brand ambassador, tells Saudi girls
Farah Jefry has become the first Saudi sportswoman to represent Adidas in the region. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 April 2021

‘Just chase your dream,’ Farah Jefry, footballer and Adidas brand ambassador, tells Saudi girls

‘Just chase your dream,’ Farah Jefry, footballer and Adidas brand ambassador, tells Saudi girls
  • Last December, the Kingdom held its very first Women’s Football League, with 24 teams from all over the Saudi Arabia competing for the honor of being the first side to take home the spoils of victory

RIYADH: Saudi sportswomen have come a long way in the past few years. Victories large and small have been hard-won in the past decade, and the Kingdom’s female population is showing no signs of slowing down.
Saudi women across the country are exploring new ways of being active, with some even choosing to take on their brothers at football, not knowing the opportunities that could arise from it.
One of the most notable names in Saudi sports is none other than the Kingdom’s current ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar. Before her diplomatic engagement, Princess Reema served as the General Sports Authority’s (GSA) deputy of planning and development, where she led diversity and inclusion, the development of the Kingdom’s sports economy, and strategic partnerships.
Last December, the Kingdom held its very first Women’s Football League, with 24 teams from all over the Saudi Arabia competing for the honor of being the first side to take home the spoils of victory.
And last Monday, Saudi women in sport gained yet another victory as one of their own landed the sponsorship deal of a lifetime. Adidas announced that the company had signed Jeddah Eagles’ midfielder Farah Jefry as a brand ambassador, making her the first Saudi sportswoman to represent it in the Middle East.
Jefry, 18, who started playing football a decade ago, told Arab News she had always dreamt of playing professionally, and that being singled out by Adidas to represent the German sports brand was a great honor.
“Adidas is such a well-known company, and I’m happy to be part of the family. Hopefully, this will pave the way for other Saudi female footballers in the future,” she said of the appointment.

Don’t be discouraged by people or opinions — there might be some obstacles, but at the end it is all worth it.

Farah Jefry, Jeddah Eagles’ midfielder

For Jefry, reaching this point in her career was not always easy, even if she had known she wanted to play since she was a child.
“I have been training with the Jeddah Eagles Ladies’ Football Club for almost 3 years,” she said. “At first it was tough because I was one of the youngest members on the team and playing with people who were a lot more experienced compared to me.”
However, Jefry took the experience as an opportunity to learn from the team’s older members, in addition to practicing at home to improve her basic skills.
“It has become a lifestyle now, and walking around with a football all day is normal for me nowadays,” she said.
According to Jefry, the hardest part of being a professional footballer is maintaining consistency, another reason she believes it important to practice as much as possible.
Jefry also counts herself lucky to have a great support system in the form of her family and friends, and says that those closest to her have always known how badly she wanted to play football at a professional level, doing whatever they could to help her make that dream a reality.
However, she says that she has had to deal with her fair share of critics, particularly those who think that there is no room for women in the sport.
“Many people keep telling me that this sport isn’t for women. However, the way I view it is that this sport isn’t for a specific gender; just like any other sport, at the end of the day I’m doing what I love and I shouldn’t be judged based on the fact that I am a woman,” she told Arab News.
She also has advice for other Saudi girls who want to be part of what she calls a “beautiful” journey.
“Don’t be discouraged by people or opinions — there might be some obstacles, but at the end it is all worth it. If you’re passionate enough just chase your dream. Everything else will align with that sooner or later,” she said.


UEFA targets FA for discipline over fan chaos at Euro final

UEFA targets FA for discipline over fan chaos at Euro final
Updated 03 August 2021

UEFA targets FA for discipline over fan chaos at Euro final

UEFA targets FA for discipline over fan chaos at Euro final
  • Fans without tickets forced their way into the stadium and there were ugly scenes in the stands
  • European soccer's governing body added that more information "will be made available in due course”

NYON, Switzerland: UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the English Football Association on Tuesday over the behavior of some England fans at the European Championship final at Wembley Stadium.
Fans without tickets forced their way into the stadium and there were ugly scenes in the stands during the July 11 game, which Italy won 3-2 on penalties.
“Following an investigation conducted by a UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspector into the events involving supporters which occurred inside and around the stadium during the UEFA Euro 2020 final match between the national teams of Italy and England played on 11 July at Wembley Stadium, London, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the English Football Association for a potential violation of Article 16(2)(h) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations for a lack of order or discipline by its supporters,” UEFA said.
European soccer’s governing body added that more information “will be made available in due course.”
Fans without tickets broke through security barriers and turnstiles to get in to see England’s first major tournament final in 55 years. England defender Harry Maguire said last month that his father sustained rib injuries during “a stampede” of fans.
The official attendance was around 67,000 of the stadium’s 90,000 capacity, with many seats intended to be left empty to distance fans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FA itself had described the scenes as ” disgraceful ” and earlier commissioned an independent review.
“We are determined to fully understand what happened outside and then inside Wembley Stadium at the UEFA Euro 2020 final on Sunday 11 July,” the FA said last month.
The FA had vowed to work with law enforcement “to identify those responsible and hold them to account.”


Right decision to hold Tokyo 2020, says head of Jordan Olympic Committee

Taekwondo silver Medallist Saleh Elsharabaty of Jordan wearing a kaffiyeh celebrates after his bout. (Reuters)
Taekwondo silver Medallist Saleh Elsharabaty of Jordan wearing a kaffiyeh celebrates after his bout. (Reuters)
Updated 03 August 2021

Right decision to hold Tokyo 2020, says head of Jordan Olympic Committee

Taekwondo silver Medallist Saleh Elsharabaty of Jordan wearing a kaffiyeh celebrates after his bout. (Reuters)
  • Country participating with delegation of 14 athletes

TOKYO: Holding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was the right decision, according to the secretary-general of the Jordan Olympic Committee.

Nasser Al-Majali told Arab News Japan that it was the “correct decision” to go ahead with the event despite calls to cancel it due to the pandemic.

“The dreams of our players would not have been realized without holding the Olympics,” he said. “Many Arab and non-Arab players had the opportunity to realize their dreams.”

Al-Majali singled out Jordan’s silver Taekwondo medal from Saleh Elsharabaty and Qatar’s high jump gold from Mutaz Barshim as highlights.

When asked about his impression of the general atmosphere in Tokyo, especially with concerns over the spread of COVID-19, Al-Majali thanked the Japanese for their hospitality.

“They try as much as possible to be hospitable, and they really are. The Japanese are apologizing to us because they can't do more due to the coronavirus situation. Even outside the Olympic Village they are very civil, and that's their nature.”

Al-Majali said it was a shame that the games had to be held with so many restrictions, and that the Jordanian Olympic delegation in Japan had been exercising caution throughout.

“We spend most of the time in the village and between the tournament hotels, in compliance with the laws in force, to reduce the possibility of anyone being infected inside or outside the Olympic Village. But we hoped that we would have the opportunity to learn about Japanese culture.”

He extended his gratitude to the city of Noshiro, in Akita Prefecture, which hosted the Jordanian Olympic delegation in a pre-game camp.

“I would like to extend special thanks to the city of Noshiro. We receive messages from the people of Noshiro all the time asking us to send them Jordanian flags signed by the athletes. We thank them and hope that we will have the opportunity to visit them with our athletes in the future.”

Jordan is participating with an Olympic delegation of 14 athletes and Al-Majali said the standard had been good in general.

The most important performance was that of Elsharabaty, whose silver was the second Olympic medal in Jordan’s history, after the gold won by Ahmad Abu Ghosh, also in Taekwondo, at the 2016 Rio Olympics.


Egyptian Equestrian star Nayel Nassar qualifies for Tokyo 2020 Jumping Individual Final after near-faultless ride

Egypt's Nayel Nassar rides Igor van de Wittemoere in the equestrian's jumping individual qualifying during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Equestrian Park in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. (AFP)
Egypt's Nayel Nassar rides Igor van de Wittemoere in the equestrian's jumping individual qualifying during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Equestrian Park in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2021

Egyptian Equestrian star Nayel Nassar qualifies for Tokyo 2020 Jumping Individual Final after near-faultless ride

Egypt's Nayel Nassar rides Igor van de Wittemoere in the equestrian's jumping individual qualifying during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Equestrian Park in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. (AFP)
  • He will be joined in the 30-athlete field by compatriot Mood Zeyada

DUBAI: After a near-faultless ride at Tokyo’s Equestrian Park, Egypt’s Nayel Nassar qualified for the Olympic Jumping Individual Final taking place on Wednesday where he will be joined by compatriot Mouda Zeyada in the quest for gold.

The 30-year-old Nassar, riding the horse Igor van de Wittemoere, and 26-year-old Zeyada, on Galanthos Shk, will be among 30 top performers from the 73 that took part in the Qualifier on Tuesday afternoon.

Their success came on a day that also saw Egypt’s handball team reach the Tokyo 2020 semifinals after beating Germany 31-26.

Nassar in particular has been center of attention since the weekend after Bill Gates, father of his wife Jennifer Katharine Gates, sent him a message of good luck on social media that went viral.

“I support many athletes in the Tokyo Olympics at the moment, but there is no athlete I support more than my son-in-law Nayel Nassar. Good luck Nayel,” Gates, the founder of Microsoft, posted on his official Instagram account.

Nassar proposed to the daughter of the billionaire founder of Microsoft at the start of last year, the two Stanford graduates having been in a relationship for four years.

As well as taking part in equestrian competitions that have helped him amass a reported net worth of $75 million, the Chicago-born Egyptian also owns Nassar Stables, established in 2014 and based in the city of Encinitas in California.


Egypt stun Germany to reach men’s handball semifinals at Tokyo 2020

After the final whistle, there were joyous celebrations from the Egyptian team on the court along with the millions of fans who watched from home or followed on social media. (AFP)
After the final whistle, there were joyous celebrations from the Egyptian team on the court along with the millions of fans who watched from home or followed on social media. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2021

Egypt stun Germany to reach men’s handball semifinals at Tokyo 2020

After the final whistle, there were joyous celebrations from the Egyptian team on the court along with the millions of fans who watched from home or followed on social media. (AFP)
  • The North African nation will meet France in the semi-finals on Thursday as its improbable run for an Olympic medal continues
  • Ahmed El-Ahmar starred for Egypt during its 31-26 win over Germany

DUBAI: Egypt are just one win away from securing their first-ever Olympic medal in the men’s handball event while a possible rematch against Denmark looms.

The North African nation stormed into the semifinals at the 2020 Tokyo Games with a 31-26 victory over Germany on Tuesday afternoon at the Yoyogi National Stadium.

Egypt’s win sets up a final-four meeting against France on Thursday while Spain takes on the Danes in the other semi-final.

The Egyptian players got off to a fast start against Germany and opened a 6-1 lead inside the first 10 minutes. The Germans would eventually catch up but Egypt went into the intermission leading 16-12.

Egypt maintained their momentum after the break as Ahmed El-Ahmar carried on the strong form he has shown throughout the tournament.

After the final whistle, there were joyous celebrations from the Egyptian team on the court along with the millions of fans who watched from home or followed on social media.

The Pharaohs defeated Bahrain 30-20 in their final preliminary match on Sunday to take second in Group B and progress to the quarterfinals.

With a 4-1 record, Egypt finished behind group winners Denmark — the only team to beat Egypt in group play — to book their quarterfinal place against Germany. If both Egypt and Denmark win their next matches, they will meet again in the final as the Egyptians could take aim at their first-ever handball medal at the Olympics.

Egypt opened their Olympic handball campaign with a 37-31 win over Portugal on July 24, but two days later, they lost the second fixture to Denmark, 32-27. The Egyptian team rallied by beating hosts Japan (33-29), Sweden (27-22), and then fellow Arab competitors Bahrain ​​(30-20).


Italy, Spain to host football tournament in support of Saudi Quality of Life project

Italy, Spain to host football tournament in support of Saudi Quality of Life project
Updated 03 August 2021

Italy, Spain to host football tournament in support of Saudi Quality of Life project

Italy, Spain to host football tournament in support of Saudi Quality of Life project
  • Proceeds from tournament to be donated to center specialized in cardiology
  • Mahd Academy to sponsor event as part of efforts to support medical, sports research centers

ROME: Four of the best football teams in Italy and Spain will play a tournament in Florence and Seville to support medical and sports research centers as part of the Quality of Life project, one of the programs of the Saudi Vision 2030.

On Aug. 7, the football teams AS Roma, ACF Fiorentina, Espanyol de Barcelona and Real Betis will kick off the first edition of the Unbeatables Cup, organized by the Italian association Unbeatables with the sponsorship of the Mahd Academy, the Saudi government body for supporting the development of sports disciplines in Saudi Arabia.

The cup will be played in two matches: Fiorentina-Espanyol at 7:00 p.m. in Florence and Betis-Roma at 10:00 p.m. in Seville.

All the proceeds of the tournament will be donated to a research center specialized in cardiology at the service of the world’s athletes.

Unbeatables was established in 2016 by ex-athletes affected by inherited cardiac arrhythmias.

In the aftermath of what happened to footballer Christian Eriksen, who collapsed suddenly after suffering cardiac arrest during Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener against Finland, as well as to many other footballers around the world, it was clear that the matter deserved widespread attention.

“Congenital cardiomyopathies are a silent killer. They can remain asymptomatic for years and, when not diagnosed, appear suddenly, causing cardiac death. Young athletes often pay the highest price because intense physical activity may be an important trigger. Promptly identifying the people most at risk of sudden death through screening activities is essential to implement prevention strategies and appropriate therapies. Only in this way can we be able to save more lives, on and off the playing field,” said Unbeatables Chairman Simone Ambrosi.

The Mahd Academy’s sponsorship of the Unbeatables Cup is part of the academy’s efforts to support medical and sports research centers around the world.

Established in July 2020, the academy aims to provide research related to the sports community as well as to discover and develop talent to build the next generation of athletes in Saudi Arabia, as part of the Quality of Life project.

Abdullah bin Faisal bin Hammad, president of Mahd Academy, expressed his appreciation for the royal approval to sponsor this tournament.

He extended his sincere thanks to HRH Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Saud, minister of sports, for his keenness to participate in such initiatives that promote sports around the world.

“The Mahd Academy will continue to support such initiatives,” he said in a statement, reaffirming the academy’s primary goals of achieving positive social impact through sports and supporting athletic talent in Saudi Arabia.