First Boxing Club opens doors to women in Gaza

First Boxing Club opens doors to women in Gaza
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Palestinian women boxers exercise on boxing moves during a training at the first women boxing center in Gaza City Jan. 17, 2023. (Reuters)
First Boxing Club opens doors to women in Gaza
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Palestinians girl, warms up during training inside the first women boxing center in Gaza City on Jan. 17, 2023. (Reuters)
First Boxing Club opens doors to women in Gaza
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Palestinian girl boxers trade jabs and punches during a training inside the first women boxing center in Gaza City Jan. 17, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 January 2023

First Boxing Club opens doors to women in Gaza

First Boxing Club opens doors to women in Gaza
  • Six years ago, Ayoub, started with two girls
  • Now around 40 girls train in the centre with its full-size boxing ring, training equipment and posters of boxing heroes such as Mike Tyson

GAZA: In Gaza’s only boxing club for girls, 15-year-old Farah Abu Al-Qomsan is practicing her moves, trading jabs and punches with the other girls training with coach Osama Ayoub at the Palestine Boxing Center.
Since taking to the sport at the age of nine, Farah has found a release from the daily stresses of life in Gaza, a narrow coastal strip where some 2.3 million Palestinians live blockaded by both Israel and neighboring Egypt.
“We used to train in a small garage. Now we train according to the full rules and release bad energy,” the 15-year-old girl, at the territory’s first women-only boxing center.
Six years ago, Ayoub, started with two girls. As more joined, they moved out of the garage and began training on the beach or in rented spaces before moving into the new club building.
“The girls are ready. I trained them hard for five years,” said Ayoub. “We are setting an example.”
Now around 40 girls train in the center with its full-size boxing ring, training equipment and posters of boxing heroes such as Mike Tyson on the walls, defying expectations in a region where boxing has traditionally been a sport for men.
“Some people used to tell me ‘Why boxing, what are you going to benefit from it, go and learn something girly’,” Farah said. “I benefit a lot from boxing and today my ambition is to represent my Palestinian people and take part in world championships.”


Ancer closes out unique victory at PIF Saudi International

Golf Saudi CEO Noah Alireza hands Abraham Ancer the trophy. (Golf Saudi)
Golf Saudi CEO Noah Alireza hands Abraham Ancer the trophy. (Golf Saudi)
Updated 10 sec ago

Ancer closes out unique victory at PIF Saudi International

Golf Saudi CEO Noah Alireza hands Abraham Ancer the trophy. (Golf Saudi)
  • Mexican matches 19-under tournament record in first ever pillar to post win
  • American Cameron Young finishes second ahead of Australian Lucas Herbert

JEDDAH: Abraham Ancer completed the first ever pillar to post victory in the $5 million PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers on Sunday, closing with a 68 to card a record equaling 19 under par for the tournament, two ahead of American Cameron Young.

The 31-year-old Mexican conducted a masterclass in front running at the Asian Tour’s season-opening event, adding the title to his WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational win in 2021.

“That was my first ever wire-to-wire win,” said Ancer, whose steadiness at the helm was made possible by a solid, repeatable golf swing and sound putting stroke.

“I just didn’t think about where I was on the leaderboard. I just felt like I just want to do that again. I played really good the first round, and I just felt like I wanted to keep that going.

“I kept telling myself, just imagine if I was in like 20th place and just got to go out there and shoot a low one. It worked out. I stayed in the moment, didn’t really think too much about the previous shots or what was coming after. So, I’m really happy with my frame of mind during these four rounds.”

Ancer led by two from Young at the start of the day and was caught by the American on the seventh. But by the turn he had moved one ahead.

A closely fought contest was expected over the closing holes but Young made a bogey on the par four 13th, where he found the water with his approach shot, then doubled the par four 15th, after chipping short and taking three on the green.

Although Young rallied with birdies on 16 and 18 it was not enough to stop Ancer becoming only the second ever Mexican winner on the Asian Tour, after Carlos Espinosa took the 1995 Canlubang Classic in the Philippines.

Remarkably, despite the windy conditions during the week at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, Ancer dropped just two shots over the four rounds: on the ninth on Sunday and 17th on Friday.

Young, who matched Ancer’s 68 on Sunday, said: “It’s always disappointing but I think I played pretty well, and I’m playing a bunch the next few weeks. I think I’m in a nice place moving forward.

“He (Ancer) played some really nice golf. He just didn’t make really any mistakes. I think he maybe made two bogeys this whole week, and with all the wind blowing as hard as it was, that’s, one, tremendous control of your golf ball, and two, I think just a lot of mental toughness.”

The result was Young’s eighth top-three finish since last year, following a second in The Open and joint third in the PGA Championship.

“I’m proud of all those finishes,” he said. “There’s nothing I’ve thrown away, I don’t think. If one or two of them was a four-shot lead that I didn’t finish off, that’s a bummer, but I’ve been beat a lot. I haven’t thrown any of them away.”

Australian Lucas Herbert carded a 65 on Sunday to finish third, with Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana shooting a 66 to secure fourth spot and cement his place as one of Asia’s rising stars.

It was also a significant week for Arab golfers, with nine taking part in the PIF Saudi International. Saudi Arabia’s Saud Al-Sharif and Faisal Salhab made their professional debuts at the event, where amateurs Issa Abou El-Ela from Egypt and El Mehdi Fakori from Morocco both made the cut.


Sports For All launches 2nd edition of Riyadh International Marathon

Event marks the latest step taken by SFA to encourage more people across Saudi Arabia to get fit and active. (Riyadh Marathon)
Event marks the latest step taken by SFA to encourage more people across Saudi Arabia to get fit and active. (Riyadh Marathon)
Updated 58 min 14 sec ago

Sports For All launches 2nd edition of Riyadh International Marathon

Event marks the latest step taken by SFA to encourage more people across Saudi Arabia to get fit and active. (Riyadh Marathon)
  • Event organized with Ministry of Sports, Quality of Life Program and Saudi Arabian Athletics Federation takes place on Feb. 11

RIYADH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation has launched the second Riyadh International Marathon, set to take place on Feb. 11.

Organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports, the Quality of Life Program and Saudi Arabian Athletic Federation, the event marks the latest step taken by SFA to encourage more people and communities across the country to get fit and active, stepping outdoors and participating in daily physical activities.

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, president of SFA, said: “We are delighted to be bringing the Riyadh Marathon back, giving people another fantastic opportunity to challenge themselves while safeguarding their health. The success of the first-ever Riyadh Marathon was a major milestone for SFA, Riyadh and the Kingdom as a whole, setting an exciting benchmark for what we can achieve as an active and sporting nation. Attracting more than 10,000 participants from various nationalities, the event showcased Saudi Arabia’s potential as a sports hub, and this upcoming edition of the event will only add to the Kingdom’s burgeoning reputation.”

Open to people of all ages — from youngsters to seniors — the marathon will give community members the chance to take part in races of varying distances, including 42 km, 21 km, 10 km, and 4 km races, catering to people of different abilities, including athletic and non-athletic contestants.

For elite participants, the 42 km track starts at 6:25 a.m. local time, and the 21 km track starts at 8:00 a.m. For mass participants, the 42 km track will kick off at 6:30 a.m., and at 8:05 a.m. for the 21 km. The 10 km track starts at 9:45 a.m. and the 4 k.m. track starts at 11:00 a.m. for younger participants.

Over the course of the event, participants will cross some of Riyadh’s notable sites and monuments, including Digital City and Diriyah. Individuals can register and access more information through the SFA app.

Prince Khaled added: “This year’s event will build on the success of our previous events, providing an enhanced quality of experience for all — no matter their age or ability. Our aim is to reach 15,000 participants, catering to different people’s needs and capabilities — for instance, with walking activities.”

To reward people for taking part in the event, a range of financial prizes worth 1 million riyals ($266,517) will also be awarded to a selection of first-place winners. Meanwhile a marathon village will be launched and open to guests from Feb. 10, and will provide live entertainment along with food and refreshment outlets.

In addition to the marathon village, participants will also be able to make the most of several customized pre-marathon training programs. These programs will be scheduled and announced through the marathon website and its social media platforms.

The second edition of Riyadh Marathon is sponsored by a range of leading entities including Roshn, NEOM, SABIC, and Sports Boulevard; as well as Visit Saudi. The official event supporters being are Chery Pro, Right Bite, and Acwa Power. The event is also sponsored by Jeeny, Nova, Delta Sports, ORS, Tawuniya Vitality, MDL Beast and Al-Arabiya.


Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage

Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage
Updated 05 February 2023

Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage

Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Nassr may have stolen the spotlight in recent weeks, but the reigning Asian champions’ FIFA Club World Cup semifinal spot reinforces an unmatched legacy on the pitch

LONDON: Al-Hilal are into the FIFA Club World Cup semifinals for the third time in four years.

Yes, Al-Hilal. Remember them? Four-time Asian champions and three-time defending Saudi Pro League champions. That Al-Hilal. Ring a bell?

For those just tuning their antennae to Saudi football for the first time over the past few months, there was only one club dominating the headlines, and it was not the reigning AFC Champions League winners.

It was, of course, Al-Nassr after their headline-grabbing signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, which catapulted them into the international consciousness like no club from Saudi Arabia had ever achieved. Not even Al-Hilal.

To highlight just how much the yellow half of Riyadh was dominating the narrative, one UK-based pundit even claimed Al-Nassr were the most successful Saudi side in recent years — despite Al-Hilal winning five of the past six Saudi Pro League titles.

Al-Hilal? They were cast as a mere footnote to the Al-Nassr-Ronaldo storyline. The Ronaldo-shaped shadow cast not just over Al-Hilal but every other Saudi club was hard to escape.

All that global attention on their Riyadh rivals, while they were still serving a transfer ban and unable to counter the signing of Ronaldo with a move of their own, would have stung a club that has made the AFC Champions League final in three of the past four seasons — something Al-Nassr has not yet managed to achieve even once.

While the world has been busy occupying itself with every exploit of Al-Nassr and Ronaldo — and clips of his first goal for his new club were shown in all corners of the globe over the past few days — Al-Hilal have served a timely reminder that, not only do they still exist, but that they do their best talking on the pitch and have no intention of ceding anything to their crosstown rivals.

Their dramatic win over Wydad Casablanca at the Club World Cup in Rabat on Saturday was a huge statement from Ramon Diaz’s side: “Don’t forget about us.”

The win was all the more impressive given that they are still missing a number of their best players through injuries sustained in Saudi Arabia’s stunning win over Argentina in Qatar just over two months ago.

Talisman and midfield maestro Salman Al-Faraj and energetic full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani both remain sidelined and were absent from the team that silenced the parochial Wydad fans inside the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium.

But while the veteran duo were absent, there were a host of other World Cup stars on show, including Saud Abdulhamid, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Kanno and star man Salem Al-Dawsari.

The only sour note in an otherwise historic win was the red card for Kanno, whose absence from midfield against Brazil’s Flamengo on Tuesday could be sorely felt, especially with Al-Faraj already missing.

Al-Hilal’s passage to the semifinals continues a golden period for Saudi football, with the national team’s heroics in Qatar fresh in the memory and Ronaldo’s signing generating international attention for the domestic league the likes of which has never been seen before.

But for a club like Al-Hilal, playing at the pinnacle of the club game is not just where they want to be, it is where they expect to be. On both previous occasions they have played at the Club World Cup, they have also advanced to the semifinals; losing to Flamengo in 2019 before coming up short against Chelsea in the 2021 edition.

They will be hoping it is third time lucky in Morocco, but standing in their way again will be Flamengo.

Such is the belief and mindset of the club that, when players like Odion Ighalo and Al-Dawsari mention they are not just playing to make up the numbers but have ambitions of winning the Club World Cup, it is not just hubris.

Do not rule them out from becoming just the third Asian club to make the final of the Club World Cup because Al-Hilal does not just expect success, it demands it. The name carries an aura right around the continent. They are the top dogs and, more importantly, they know it. Not just that, they revel in it; being the center of attention, the envy of all others, is what they crave most.

“The club has to be at the top, always, to meet our fans’ hopes, to win the most trophies,” club legend Nawaf Al-Temyat, who retired in 2008, told Arab News in 2021.

“Any player who can’t play under pressure won’t be a superstar. Playing under pressure is a key factor to show the real personality of the player. This is what the young players must learn,” he added.

One player who mastered playing under pressure is arguably the club’s greatest player, Sami Al-Jaber. During a glittering career that spanned almost 20 years, he played and won everything for Al-Hilal.

“Al-Hilal is not just a football club, Al-Hilal is a legacy, it’s a very big legacy in Saudi Arabia and the region,” he told Arab News back in 2017.

“(It’s) just like my family, just like home and my family. It’s a club that has a legacy and it’s more than just a football club. You can see the history, and in Asia I would say it’s No. 1.

“I can’t say any more than the club is more than a football club, it’s a community.”

While the Club World Cup may not generate the same emotion as its international counterpart, it still comes with significant international exposure and Al-Hilal will bask in taking the spotlight away from Al-Nassr, even if just momentarily.

How could anyone forget Al-Hilal?


Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City
Updated 05 February 2023

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City
  • The 29-year-old is now also just the third player to net 200 Premier League goals, after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208)

LONDON: Harry Kane’s record-breaking goal pushed Tottenham to a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday to further dent the champions’ hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
Kane slotted home after 15 minutes and moved past the late Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time leading scorer on 267 goals.
It proved enough to keep up Tottenham’s excellent recent home record against City, which could have moved two points behind first-place Arsenal following its defeat at Everton on Saturday.
Fifth-place Spurs instead claimed a third victory from their last four matches against Pep Guardiola’s team — despite Cristian Romero’s late sending-off for a second yellow card — to aid the recovery of absent manager Antonio Conte, who is still in Italy after having his gallbladder removed on Wednesday.
Despite Conte recovering from surgery, he was involved in team selection and deadline-day signing Pedro Porro was only on the bench for Spurs with City surprisingly naming Kevin De Bruyne among the substitutes, too.
The visitors had seen Arsenal drop points a day earlier and signaled their intentions with Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez having shots blocked in the opening exchanges.
City was dominating possession but soon felt the familiar feeling of trailing to Tottenham — and it proved a record-breaking goal.
Eric Dier urged his teammates to press higher and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stole in ahead of Rico Lewis outside the away penalty area to intercept Rodri’s pass and slip the ball into the path of Kane, who scuffed an effort beyond goalkeeper Ederson and into the corner.
The screens inside the stadium acknowledged Kane’s achievement before the striker waved to his family in the West Stand.
Bookings followed with Rodrigo Bentancur and Romero cautioned in quick succession, the latter for clattering into the ineffective Erling Haaland.
Tottenham assistant coach Cristian Stellini, filling in for Conte, was attempting to match the animated presence of his fellow Italian on the touchline but saw his team enjoy a slice of luck before the break.
After Rodri and Jack Grealish failed to find the net with curled efforts late in the half, Mahrez sent a stinging half-volley crashing against the crossbar from 12 yards (meters) that bounced away to safety to ensure Spurs were ahead at the break for the first time at home since Oct. 12.
Ben Davies headed wide for the hosts at the start of the second period before Guardiola turned to De Bruyne with 57 minutes played.
De Bruyne’s first real involvement saw his short free kick find Alvarez, who saw a low shot diverted over by Dier’s thigh.
It sparked a frantic spell with Romero blocking Manuel Akanji’s shot and, seconds later, Ivan Perisic’s cross agonizingly evaded the Argentina defender and Kane at the back post.
Kane was in the thick of the action minutes later, sending one effort wide before Ederson denied him after the striker surged between Kyle Walker and Akanji.
More drama was to follow with referee Andrew Madley showing Romero a second yellow card for a foul on Grealish before five minutes of stoppage time was added on.
Despite plenty of City possession, Tottenham held firm to move a point off the top four and do rivals Arsenal a big favor in the title race.


Arab amateur golfers make their mark at PIF Saudi International

Arab amateur golfers make their mark at PIF Saudi International
Updated 05 February 2023

Arab amateur golfers make their mark at PIF Saudi International

Arab amateur golfers make their mark at PIF Saudi International
  • Egypt’s Issa Abou El-Ela, Morocco’s El Mehdi Fakori make cut at Asian Tour event
  • “Nothing’s out of reach,” Egyptian says after breakthrough

JEDDAH: It may be a battle at the top of the leaderboard between Abraham Ancer and Cameron Young, but two young Arabs also made their mark at the PIF Saudi International this week.

Amateurs Issa Abou El-Ela of Egypt and El Mehdi Fakori of Morocco both made the cut at the Asian Tour’s flagship event against some of the best golfers in the world.

“From my perspective, it hasn’t sunk in, but I think it’s just a great thing for confidence,” Abou El-Ela said.

“At the end of the day, it’s more about the whole Arab community. It’s not just me, it’s more of a sign that we can do it. We now have Faisal, Saud, Othman and Shergo who are all professionals competing out here too.

“I’m obviously over the moon to make the cut but it just shows that as Arabs we have a chance to shine on the global stage and it doesn’t have to be at football.

“Now we have a chance to show it, and with the support of Golf Saudi and the Arab Golf Federation, I don’t see why in five to 10 years, even past me, we see one of our juniors in the Arab community winning one of these.”

Fakori also finished the week on a high, shooting a four-under 66 in the final round on Sunday.

“I felt less pressure today and gave the course the proper respect that it deserved from the first hole. Unlike yesterday, I was playing for birdies,” he said.

Both men said they were grateful to the International Series for the opportunity to play against some of the world’s best golfers, including Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith and Bryson Dechambeau.

“I’m very happy to be playing with the world’s best players,” Fakori said. “I’m playing with them and getting the firsthand experience to learn what I need. But when I’m in the field I am only focusing on myself and my own game.”

Abou El-Ela, who birdied the last hole at Royal Greens to make the cut, said: “A bunch of the guys on the Asian tour I’ve known for a while since the International Series have been taking me under their wing, like Richard Lee and a lot of other guys, so I’ve just started to feel more comfortable on this tour. I’ve seen a lot of these players succeed before and it just made me thirstier to do better.”

The 28-year-old Egyptian added: “I’m just trying to help build a way just to prove that nothing’s out of reach … obviously we have a lot of young talented juniors from all the countries around the Middle East, I’ve seen it in Pan Arabs, I’ve seen it day in and day out.”

In a message to those aspiring to make the top grade, he said: “You have so many opportunities and I just think we have a chance, so don’t let any obstacles like not finding a college or you can’t find a coach get in your way. You are what you make yourself, so just keep fighting and one day we’ll see one of these juniors here and I can't wait to watch myself.”

Fakori added: “You need to respect the sport, you need to be disciplined and consistent. There’s no one better than the other, there’s just a player who’s more consistent.”

The other Arab golfers in the field this week were Faisal Salhab, Saud Alsharif and Othman Almulla of Saudi Arabia — the first two of whom were making their professional debuts — Baha Boulakmine of Tunisia, Jamal Allali and Adam Bresnu of Morocco, and Shergo Al-Kurdi of Jordan.

The next stop for Abou El-Ela and Fakori is the International Series Oman, which starts on Thursday, and where they will line up against the likes of Brooks Koepka, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, Eugenio Chacarra and Carlos Ortiz.