First woman president in Saudi sport hopes to bring success to Wej Club

Hanan Al-Qurashi became the first Saudi woman sports club president in the Kingdom’s history after she was appointed head of Taif-based Wej Club by the Ministry of Sport. (Supplied)
Hanan Al-Qurashi became the first Saudi woman sports club president in the Kingdom’s history after she was appointed head of Taif-based Wej Club by the Ministry of Sport. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 September 2023
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First woman president in Saudi sport hopes to bring success to Wej Club

First woman president in Saudi sport hopes to bring success to Wej Club

JEDDAH: On June 8, Hanan Al-Qurashi became the first Saudi woman sports club president in the Kingdom’s history after she was appointed head of Taif-based Wej Club by the Ministry of Sport.

Al-Qurashi had previously served as a member of the board of directors at the Wej Club, and she was assigned to handle women’s sports in 2021. In August 2022, she was appointed vice president of the Wej Club.

Speaking to Arab News, Al-Qurashi said: “I am truly honored to be Wej’s president, and would like to thank the Ministry of Sport for putting its faith in me to deliver this enormously important role, for the good of the sport I have loved all my life.”

She added: “This represents an affirmation of confidence in women and an enhancement of their pioneering role in all fields with the support of the leadership in the country that has provided and continues to provide all citizens of the country, men and women, with all support and confidence, in order to accomplish many difficult tasks for this dear country.

“This confidence is ‘a crown on our heads’ as Saudi women, as it confirms that there is no difference between men and women except through work and achievement, which determines the competence and ability to perform the tasks assigned to each of us.”

She called being the first woman in the club’s history to be made chairperson “a good gesture and a breakthrough for all women.”

She said it will be a challenging job, revealing that the club has great ambitions for the future.

“It is a big job, so you’ve got to be brave in a lot of ways, and come out of your comfort zone if you want to create change,” she told Arab News.

When asked about her plan to develop the club in all sports, she said: “My ambition is to work, strive and be up to the responsibility entrusted to us to work on a new path for the club, from where we already started by forming a new council that will be integrated and work together to expand the club’s games in order to be more competitive with other clubs, and achieve the aspirations of the people of Taif.”

Al-Qurashi said that she did face difficulties when first entering the sports field. “I certainly experienced opposition from the family at the beginning, but I saw that the way would one day be paved for women to enter this field, and this is what was achieved so far,” she said.

“In fact, I was keen to learn, train and attend courses, whether in the Kingdom or outside it,” she added.

On the privatization of clubs, she said: “The privatization of clubs, I see it as a good thing for the clubs; it will raise levels a lot. We have generous support. It just needs us to take a serious stand, whether officials or others, to make this vision a success.”

As for the future, Al-Qurashi said she wants to make Wej Club competitive in all sports, especially football, adding: “Our football is playing in the first division and I hope we can see it someday in the Saudi Pro League. I look forward to a successful sporting future for Wej Club in the coming years, with the support of the people of Taif.”


Ukraine arrive at Euro 2024 to a patriotic welcome and vivid reminder of the war at home

Ukraine arrive at Euro 2024 to a patriotic welcome and vivid reminder of the war at home
Updated 13 June 2024
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Ukraine arrive at Euro 2024 to a patriotic welcome and vivid reminder of the war at home

Ukraine arrive at Euro 2024 to a patriotic welcome and vivid reminder of the war at home
  • “We need to talk about this,” coach Serhiy Rebrov said
  • This tournament is “100 percent” different and special, Zinchenko said

WIESBADEN, Germany: With patriotic songs broadcast and thousands of exiled Ukrainians in the stadium, the men’s national team was made to feel at home at their first training in Germany for the European Championship.
After the national anthem played, and before the warmups began, there was a vivid reminder of the war at home that is a constant and uniting force for this Ukraine squad.
Each player had a ball to give to a fan and Oleksandr Zinchenko presented his to a military veteran who had prosthetic legs below each knee.
Near the downtown stadium of Wehen Wiesbaden is the United States military headquarters in Germany which is coordinating the delivery of weapons and other aid from Ukraine’s allies to fight against the Russian invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Wiesbaden six months ago.
It is a subject the Ukraine team want to address, and hope Euro 2024 watched worldwide will help put on center stage.
“We need to talk about this,” coach Serhiy Rebrov said. “I know that some people are tired about the news of the war, but we are continuing to fight, and we need your support.”
“It’s very important that Ukraine is represented in the Euro because we, all Ukrainians, we want to be in (the) European family,” said the former national team star who also played in England and Russia, and coached in Hungary. “On the war we are fighting for all Europe.”
Zinchenko was in the Ukraine team that reached the quarterfinals of Euro 2021, the pandemic-delayed tournament. That was the last European summer before the Russians attacked.
This tournament is “100 percent” different and special, Zinchenko said.
“There are still people dying for no reason and we have to stick together,” said the Arsenal player, stressing that what the players have lived through does not compare to fighters on the front lines and their families.
“For them it is super difficult, for us it’s obviously extra motivation. We all know who is behind us. We need to show our best performance,” Zinchenko said.
Ukraine first play on Monday against Romania in Munich. Four days later, Ukraine play Slovakia in Duesseldorf then finish in Group F against favored Belgium on June 26 in Stuttgart.
Preparation for those games started in earnest on Thursday morning after a formal welcome on the field by politicians from the region where Wiesbaden is the state capital.
The 4,000 fans in the stadium gave standing ovations to greet different groups of players as they passed by doing light warmup runs in laps of the field.
“In Germany, the Ukrainian community is everywhere. We were very happy with everything here,” said Rebrov, one day after the squad arrived.
At home, the country is under constant threat of Russian bombs targeting the people and essential infrastructure for daily life like the power grid.
“I hope when we play the games,” midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi said, “people in Ukraine have lights to watch the games on TV.”
For the past 10 years, Ukrainian champion Shakhtar Donetsk has been unable to play games in its home city because of the conflict in the country’s east involving Russian-backed separatists.
Ukraine midfielder Taras Stepanenko has stayed with Shakhtar through the whole decade, including playing Champions League ‘home’ games this season in Germany. He said on Thursday, “We deserve to be here for our people.
“Every day people die, cities destroyed. Every day when we wake up, we read the news about what the situation is in Ukraine,” said the 34-year-old player appearing at his third straight Euros.
“Every day, I see on my phone screen, messages about air (raids). So, every morning I phone my parents to ask if everything is OK,” Stepanenko added. “We live in this condition almost three years. It’s so difficult.”


Dutch players cut short postseason vacations to answer emergency call at Euro 2024

Dutch players cut short postseason vacations to answer emergency call at Euro 2024
Updated 13 June 2024
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Dutch players cut short postseason vacations to answer emergency call at Euro 2024

Dutch players cut short postseason vacations to answer emergency call at Euro 2024
  • “And I just had to pack my stuff as quickly as possible and come,” said Maatsen
  • Bologna forward Zirkzee posted a photo of himself smiling broadly on Instagram with the text: “When you get the call to leave Disney for the Euros”

DORTMUND: One of the players was on a boat on a Greek island. The other was in Disney World in Florida.
Yet neither Ian Maatsen nor Joshua Zirkzee had any hesitation answering the emergency call from the Netherlands at the European Championship.
“It’s a childhood dream to be here — it’s definitely worth the return trip,” said Maatsen, the left back who was on vacation in Mykonos with his girlfriend when he was summoned by Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman to replace Frenkie de Jong.
“I suddenly received a call,” he added on Thursday. “And I just had to pack my stuff as quickly as possible and come.”
Maatsen was on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Chelsea in the recently completed season and helped the German club reach the Champions League final, where they lost to Real Madrid on June 1.
He was named in UEFA’s Champions League team of the season and will give Koeman an extra option on the left flank, where he is set to challenge Daley Blind for a starting spot.
“I did enjoy my holiday and processed everything well, including the disappointment of the Champions League final,” he said.
As for Zirkzee, he cut short his postseason vacation in Florida to head to the Netherlands’ base in Wolfsburg after another striker in the squad, Brian Brobbey, hurt a hamstring in training.
After hearing of his call-up, Bologna forward Zirkzee posted a photo of himself smiling broadly on Instagram with the text: “When you get the call to leave Disney for the Euros.”
Zirkzee has never played an international for the Netherlands’ senior team. He joined the Bayern Munich youth academy and played a handful of games for the German powerhouse before moving on loan to Parma then Anderlecht before signing for Bologna in 2022.
The Netherlands open their Euro 2024 campaign on Sunday against Poland in Hamburg.


Germany warns of Islamist threat on eve of Euro 2024 tournament

Germany warns of Islamist threat on eve of Euro 2024 tournament
Updated 13 June 2024
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Germany warns of Islamist threat on eve of Euro 2024 tournament

Germany warns of Islamist threat on eve of Euro 2024 tournament
  • “Our focus of course is above all on the threat of Islamist terrorism, hooligans and their offenses, everyday crime, violent criminals, but this time also on cyber-attacks,” Faeser said
  • Groups such as Daesh have already called for attacks at the month-long tournament

BERLIN: Germany welcomed police officers from across Europe on Thursday to bolster its defenses against potential threats at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament, with Interior Minister Nancy Faeser promising vigilance on the eve of the opening match.
“Our focus of course is above all on the threat of Islamist terrorism, hooligans and their offenses, everyday crime, violent criminals, but this time also on cyber-attacks,” Faeser said at a ceremony for around 350 foreign police officers dispatched for the event.
Groups such as Daesh have already called for attacks at the month-long tournament, which begins with the host country’s Group A opener against Scotland on Friday.
“Our security authorities therefore have the Islamist scene firmly in their sights,” Faeser said, while adding that authorities were not currently aware of any specific plots.
Germany expects 2.7 million people to attend matches in stadiums across the country and some 12 million in its fan zones for outdoor viewing, including on a long stretch of turf laid out in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.
The fan zones were popular during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but it remains to be seen whether the public mood at this event can rise above simmering tensions at a time of conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East, and as the far right sees its support surge in Europe.
“Some people are trying to bring these conflicts into our country,” the minister warned, adding that propaganda and hate speech on German streets would not be tolerated.
Some 22,000 police officers will be working each day at the tournament.
German security authorities are also working with international partners to identify potential threats and the country has ramped up its border controls.


Messi to miss Olympics but leaves door open for 2026 World Cup

Messi to miss Olympics but leaves door open for 2026 World Cup
Updated 13 June 2024
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Messi to miss Olympics but leaves door open for 2026 World Cup

Messi to miss Olympics but leaves door open for 2026 World Cup
  • Messi, who turns 37 on June 24, will be with defending champions Argentina at the Copa America from June 20 to July 14 in the United States, just a few weeks before the Olympics start on July 26

MIAMI: Eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi has confirmed in an interview with US broadcaster ESPN that he will not attempt to win a second gold medal with Argentina at the Paris Olympics this summer.
“I spoke with (Argentinian Olympic coach Javier) Mascherano, and we immediately agreed on the situation,” Inter Miami forward Messi said in the interview broadcast on Wednesday.
“It’s a difficult moment, because there’s the Copa America, and that would mean two or three consecutive months away from my club.
“At my age, I don’t want to play everything and I need to make the right choices,” added the former Barcelona star who was a member of Argentina’s 2008 Olympic gold medal winning team.
Messi, who turns 37 on June 24, will be with defending champions Argentina at the Copa America from June 20 to July 14 in the United States, just a few weeks before the Olympics start on July 26.
Messi, however, has not closed the door on taking part in a record-breaking sixth World Cup, to be held in 2026 between the US, Canada and Mexico.
“It’s great to have records and continue to achieve things but I won’t take part in a World Cup just to say I’ve done six,” said Messi.
“If I feel good and everything is in place for me to be there, fine, but I won’t go just to go.”
“It’s very difficult to imagine what can happen because it’s still two years away. I don’t need to commit right now to whether or not I’ll be there.”


Team Falcons emerge champions in Saudi qualifier for Esports World Cup

Team Falcons emerge champions in Saudi qualifier for Esports World Cup
Updated 13 June 2024
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Team Falcons emerge champions in Saudi qualifier for Esports World Cup

Team Falcons emerge champions in Saudi qualifier for Esports World Cup
  • The Honor of Kings Invitational Midseason-Esports World Cup will take place in Riyadh from July 4 to Aug. 25

RIYADH: Team Falcons have guaranteed their spot at the $3-million Honor of Kings Invitational Midseason-Esports World Cup in Riyadh from July 4 to Aug. 25.

Team Falcons demonstrated their dominance in the Saudi Arabia qualifier, with Luban emerging as their best player.

They overcame rival Saudi Arabia esports clubs including Twisted Minds, R8 Esports, Geekay Esports, Onyx Ravens, RTG (Road to Glory), The Vicious, Dragons, and GS Team.

The tournament was broadcast live from June 9 to 11 on the official Honor of Kings Arabia channels and within the “Honor of Kings” game.

The “Honor of Kings” game has become the world’s most popular mobile multiplayer online battle arena contest. It has over 200 million registered users and more than 100 million daily players.

The free-to-play game was launched in the Middle East and North Africa in February 2024.