DUBAI: Adidas has released its new global campaign “Running Needs Nothing But You,” which includes a film featuring three regional athletes for the first time.
Qatari hurdler Mariam Farid, Egyptian runner Khadija Hegazy, and Egyptian football icon Mo Salah star in the short flick, which aims to show that anyone and everyone can run regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, and disabilities.
Liverpool player Salah said: “Running is my personal story.” It reminded him of early mornings in Egypt when he was 13, waking up at 5 a.m. to pray and run.
“It was around the same time I was scouted and began playing for an amateur club so running always reminds me of chasing the impossible and running after the future I had imagined for myself,” he added.
The film also stars Hegazy and Farid, both hijabi athletes, marking an important milestone for Arab women.
Hegazy, an Egyptian triathlete and Adidas runners coach, played basketball until 2011. She started running in the same year, as a way of “being with myself” and to improve her basketball skills, she told Arab News.
She was harassed and catcalled when running in the streets of Cairo, with people stopping to ask her if she was being chased. She had to pick her routes and run times wisely to avoid feeling afraid.
She also started finding buddies and building a running community, so “we’re all together and we don’t have to feel scared or alone,” she said.
Farid has been a professional athlete since the age of 13. As one of the first hijabi female Qatari athletes to take part in the World Athletics Championships, she aims to change the global perception of hijabi athletes.
From a young age, Farid considered it her responsibility to be an agent of change.
She told Arab News: “I believe I’m the girl who would change the perception of women from my region.
“Being an athlete in the Arab world is considered as something masculine, aggressive — not feminine,” she added.
But over time she realized she could be just as successful on the field sweating without any makeup on as she could suited up in a conference room.
Farid said: “I’m here to prove to any ignorant person or any person who is not willing to learn and willing to understand that there are women who are strong, beautiful inside out, independent and can achieve what they love.”
Both athletes described it as a privilege and honor to be part of Adidas’ global film.
Hegazy said: “It’s so good to be able to represent and to feel represented at the same time because you don’t see a lot of hijabi athletes out there.
“It’s not easy for people to accept a covered woman being in a global campaign. It’s an evolution and a revolution,” she added.