Women’s sport now about winning, not participation, says Saudi fencer

Women’s sport now about winning, not participation, says Saudi fencer
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Lama Al-Fozan at the WiMENA Women in Sport conference. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
Women’s sport now about winning, not participation, says Saudi fencer
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Lama Al-Fozan at the WiMENA Women in Sport conference. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
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Updated 07 June 2024
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Women’s sport now about winning, not participation, says Saudi fencer

Women’s sport now about winning, not participation, says Saudi fencer
  • Lama Al-Fozan: The goal is no longer just to participate in competitions such as the Olympics, but to actually win medals
  • Al-Fozan: We really aren't doing this for other people, or to market ourselves, we are doing this for our nation and for our own development

LONDON: The goal for women’s sport in Saudi Arabia is no longer about taking part on a global scale but winning medals and titles, Saudi fencer Lama Al-Fozan told Arab News on Thursday.

Al-Fozan, who is also vice president of the Saudi Athletes’ Committee, was a guest at the WiMENA Women in Sport conference at Chelsea FC in London and one of many voices extolling the progress being made in the Kingdom and the wider Middle East region.

She said the blueprint for development of women’s sport participation in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East and North Africa region worked as an example for the rest of the world to follow, a common theme at the conference.




Lama Al-Fozan at the WiMENA Women in Sport conference. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)

These were “exciting times” for the Kingdom, she said, explaining that when she started fencing as a teenager there were only 200 registered Saudi female athletes. By 2024 the number had increased to 7,000, mirrored by a three-fold increase in women’s sporting federations and clubs from 32 to 97 in under a decade.

Al-Fozan said women now also held training and coaching roles, worked in sports management and sat on sporting institutions’ boards. She highlighted how the Kingdom’s sports authorities had focused on increasing the number of activities open to female participation.

However, she added the focus had now moved on from encouraging women and girls to play sports to creating conditions where talent could be developed to ensure success.

Al-Fozan said that while Saudi athletes might not dominate at the Paris Olympics this summer, people could see for themselves the progress made at events in years to come.

“The goal is no longer just to participate in competitions such as the Olympics, but to actually win medals — this is one of the pillars of the (Saudi) national sport strategy. We are very optimistic and we are excited about it, the future is bright,” she said.

 

The fencer told Arab News that the progress and potential of women’s sport development in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East was often underestimated, especially in the West.

“I feel we faced criticism in the past because we weren't doing enough and then when we started to develop, we still faced criticism,” she said.

“We really aren't doing this for other people, or to market ourselves, we are doing this for our nation and for our own development. As a Saudi, as an athlete, and as a female, I'm really proud of that.”


US basketball team arrives in Abu Dhabi

US basketball team arrives in Abu Dhabi
Updated 13 July 2024
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US basketball team arrives in Abu Dhabi

US basketball team arrives in Abu Dhabi
  • Side faces off against Australia on July 15, Serbia on July 17

RIYADH: The USA men’s national basketball team arrived in Abu Dhabi as part of their preparations for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The Americans will face Australia and Serbia on July 15 and 17, respectively. Australia and Serbia will face off on July 16. The games will be played at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena.

The team’s visit, as part of the USA Basketball Showcase, highlights Abu Dhabi’s growing prominence as a hub for world-class sporting events.

The city boasts state-of-the-art pitches, top-quality technology and comfortable spectator areas, a press release said.

For the second straight summer, the USA Basketball Showcase is being held in the UAE capital in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi.


Burmester, Stringers take lead on tough first day at LIV Golf Andalucia

Burmester, Stringers take lead on tough first day at LIV Golf Andalucia
Updated 13 July 2024
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Burmester, Stringers take lead on tough first day at LIV Golf Andalucia

Burmester, Stringers take lead on tough first day at LIV Golf Andalucia
  • South African shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot advantage while leading Stinger GC to the top of the team leaderboard

SOTOGRANDE: Real Club Valderrama bared its teeth in Friday’s first round of LIV Golf Andalucia, making it the toughest scoring day in the league’s young history.

Dean Burmester shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot advantage while leading Stinger GC to the top of the team leaderboard, but even the South African was not sure how he managed the low score.

“Valderrama is some place,” said Burmester, the individual winner earlier this season in Miami on another difficult course, Doral’s Blue Monster. “… I don’t know how I shot 5-under, to be honest with you.”

Only seven of the 54 players in the field were under par, the fewest amount in a single round of any LIV Golf regular-season tournament. The field stroke average of 3.519 over par, with five players shooting 80 or higher, is the highest for any of LIV Golf’s 88 regular-season rounds. Collectively, the field was 190 over, and just one hole played under par, the par-5 11th.

Gusting winds reaching nearly 20 mph from a direction that was different from the practice days required players to throw their game plans out the window. The winds also dried the greens, creating firm putting surfaces.

Fireballs GC Captain Sergio Garcia, who has more experience at Spain’s most celebrated golf course than any other LIV Golf player, told fellow Spaniard and playing partner Jon Rahm early in their round that Valderrama was “showing some teeth today. Probably not the whole mouth but definitely the teeth.”

The Legion XIII captain replied: “Some teeth? I think it’s more than that.”

Rahm, making his first start in his home country since joining LIV Golf in the offseason, shot a 2-over 73 on a day in which he said he made just one mistake, misjudging his putt on the 13th hole, leading to a three-putt bogey. 

“I feel like I played really good,” said Rahm, in an eight-way tie for 16th. “The scores on this golf course a lot of times are worse than it feels like.”

Garcia was one of those seven players under par, shooting a 2-under 69 to share fourth place with Crushers GC’s Anirban Lahiri. Fireballs teammate Eugenio Chacarra of Spain was one stroke better, shooting a 68 as his game continues to trend up after a tie for third at last week’s International Series Morocco.

“My goal for today was to play smart golf,” Chacarra said. “I know my game is there.”

The Fireballs, with three Spanish players on their roster, are at 2-under and in second place on the team leaderboard, two shots behind the Stingers.

The closest pursuer to Burmester on the individual leaderboard is Iron Heads GC’s Danny Lee, who shot a 4-under 67. It is his fourth-best round relative to par this season as he has struggled for results. He entered this week ranked 45th in points. 

“Definitely a sign that I’m moving into the right direction,” said Lee, whose goal is to finish the regular season inside the top 24 to lock up playing privileges for 2025.

For Burmester, the key to survival on Friday was his putter. He needed just 21 putts, which tied for fewest in the field with wild card player Anthony Kim, who shot a 73.

“It was probably one of the best putting rounds I’ve ever had as a professional,” Burmester said. “Just every time I stood over a putt, I just felt like could I make it. You don’t get days like that too often.”

LIV Golf players have never seen a day like this, and they are hoping for a bit of relief this weekend in the final two rounds.

“Can it be more difficult? Yes, everything can be more difficult,” Rahm said. “… But not a lot harder, obviously. Today was a pretty hard day.”

 

TEAM COUNTING SCORES

Standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Andalucia. The three best scores from each team count in the first two rounds while all four scores count in the final round. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title. 

 
1. STINGER GC -4 (Burmester 66, Oosthuizen 70, Schwartzel 73)

 
2. FIREBALLS GC -2 (Chacarra 68, Garcia 69, Ancer 74)

 
3. IRON HEADS GC -1 (Lee 67, Vincent 72, Na 73)

 
T4. CRUSHERS GC +4 (Lahiri 69, Casey 74, DeChambeau 74)

 
T4. MAJESTICKS GC +4 (Horsfield 70, Westwood 71, Poulter 76)

 
T6. CLEEKS GC +6 (Bland 71, Kaymer 72, Meronk 76)

 
T6. TORQUE GC +6 (Ortiz 72, Pereira 73, Muñoz 74)

 
8. 4ACES GC +8 (Reed 72, Johnson 73, Perez 76)

 
9. LEGION XIII +9 (Hatton 72, Rahm 73, Vincent 77)

 
10. RIPPER GC +10 (Smith 72, Herbert 75, Leishman 76)

 
T11. SMASH GC +13 (Koepka 75, McDowell 75, Gooch 76)

 
T11. HYFLYERS GC +13 (Mickelson 73, Tringale 76, Steele 77)

 
13. RANGEGOATS GC +18 (Wolff 73, Pieters 79, Watson 79)


Esports Olympic Games in Saudi Arabia will ‘entirely reimagine’ the gaming landscape, says Prince Faisal

Esports Olympic Games in Saudi Arabia will ‘entirely reimagine’ the gaming landscape, says Prince Faisal
Updated 13 July 2024
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Esports Olympic Games in Saudi Arabia will ‘entirely reimagine’ the gaming landscape, says Prince Faisal

Esports Olympic Games in Saudi Arabia will ‘entirely reimagine’ the gaming landscape, says Prince Faisal
  • The Kingdom will host the inaugural Esports Olympic Games in 2025 following International Olympic Committee announcement
  • Saudi Esports Federation Chairman Prince Faisal calls announcement ‘proud and humbling’ moment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the inaugural Esports Olympic Games in 2025 will “entirely reimagine” the gaming and esports landscape, says Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation.

The news was announced by the International Olympic Committee on Friday afternoon. The IOC has partnered with the Saudi Arabian Olympic & Paralympic Committee under an ambitious 12-year agreement — with the Esports Olympic Games set to be held regularly throughout this time.

Saudi Arabia is currently hosting the inaugural Esports World Cup, at Boulevard Riyadh City until Aug. 25, and Prince Faisal said that this latest news consolidated the Kingdom’s position as a destination of choice for leading global esports events.

“The opportunity to host an event of this magnitude is a proud and humbling moment for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — it’s something that has captured the attention and imagination of game enthusiasts all around the world,” he said.

“Beginning next year, there’s no doubt that this brand-new event is destined to be a spectacle that entirely reimagines gaming and esports as we know it. It will bring the entire global community even closer together as the spirit of elite competition and international cooperation shine bright while the world’s best athletes provide moments of esports excellence that entertain, delight and inspire.”

In line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, gaming and esports is one of 13 sectors being prioritized under the transformational socio-economic framework. From launching talent and infrastructure development projects to hosting international competitions, recent years have seen the Kingdom emerge as a global gaming and esports hub — supported by SEF and the ambitious National Gaming and Esports Strategy launched in 2022 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

With the Esports Olympic Games officially confirmed as a regular mainstay on the global calendar from next year onwards, Prince Faisal said that the Saudi-based Esports Olympics could mirror the success of the Summer Olympics by bringing the global community together for inspirational sporting events.

“For countless generations, the Olympic Games has been widely considered as the grandest stage in all of sport,” Prince Faisal said. “They represent something truly special and spectacular — an occasion where the world comes together to watch moments of magnificence that epitomize talent, teamwork, dedication and belief in one’s abilities to fulfill their dreams and aspirations.

“It’s my sincere belief that the Esports Olympic Games will have a similar influence and impact. We’ve already seen esports — the new global sport — morph into a modern-day phenomenon where opportunities are there like never before for athletes to compete, excel and succeed. The Esports Olympic Games will continue this legacy — and we look forward to the honor and privilege of hosting the first-ever edition,” he said.


Soccer-In humble Spanish suburb, wonderkid Lamine Yamal embodies hope

Soccer-In humble Spanish suburb, wonderkid Lamine Yamal embodies hope
Updated 13 July 2024
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Soccer-In humble Spanish suburb, wonderkid Lamine Yamal embodies hope

Soccer-In humble Spanish suburb, wonderkid Lamine Yamal embodies hope
  • Lamine Yamal was born in Spain from a Moroccan father and an Equatorial Guinea mother, joined Barcelona’s academy when he was six and moved to live in the city aged 11

MATARO: In the working-class, multi-ethnic Barcelona suburb where Lamine Yamal grew up, the stunning rise of Spain’s soccer wonderkid in the European Championship generates both intense pride and hope.
The Barcelona winger, who turns 17 on Saturday, celebrates his goals gesturing 304 with his fingers in a nod to the 08304 postal code of the Rocafonda neighborhood, in the coastal city of Mataro, where he grew up and where his father and grandmother live.
“My son is like any other kid. He has fought for a dream and has had the opportunity to achieve it,” said his jubilant father, Mounir Nasraoui, 38, dressed with Lamine Yamal’s Spanish national jersey at a local bar where people took selfies and embraced him.
He forecasts Spain will beat England 3-0 in Sunday’s Euro 2024 final in Berlin, which he will attend.
The El Cordobes bar, with a framed signed jersey of Lamine Yamal hung on a wall, witnessed the family’s early financial struggles.
Nasraoui would be given his coffee for free so he could instead use his money for a train ride to take his son for training at Barcelona’s academy, said the bar’s owner Juan Carlos Serrano.
“This jersey is the pride of the neighborhood, man!,” said Serrano.
“Lamine is the prototype of a kid who has had to work hard, who has been a good student and just graduated from secondary school,” he added. “For this reason, he is a mirror for children.”
Rocafonda is among Mataro’s neighborhoods with the lowest household income and most residents were born outside the Catalonia region and Spain, primarily in Morocco.
Lamine Yamal was born in Spain from a Moroccan father and an Equatorial Guinea mother, who lives in a nearby town. He joined Barcelona’s academy when he was six and moved to live in the city aged 11, his father said.
On Tuesday, he became the youngest player to score in a World Cup or Euros with a sublime 25-meter strike against France.
He also lifted Rocafonda’s self-esteem.
“People used to be ashamed of saying they are from here. This is a very humble neighborhood where people make 1,000 euros a month,” said 28 year-old Sufian, born from Moroccan parents. “Now people that are not even from Rocafonda or Mataro, say: I am from 304!.”
At Rocafonda’s asphalt pitch where Yamal used to play soccer, young people from Moroccan and Senegalese origin say they dream of following in his footsteps, echoing the humble neighborhoods where other stars grew up such as Argentina’s Lionel Messi and France’s Kylian Mbappe.
Lamine Yamal, who is Black, also represents how Spain has become more ethnically diverse in recent decades due to migration from Africa and Latin America.
His success also comes at a significant political moment. Spain’s far-right party Vox, with a strong anti-migration rhetoric, on Thursday announced it would break five regional government coalitions with the center-right People’s Party over disagreements on the shelter policy for under-18 migrants.
“Lamine’s goal (on Tuesday) was not only a goal, it also sent the message that racism is over and that we are all the same,” said Sufian.


Riyadh to host African Super Cup between Egyptian rivals Al Ahly, Zamalek

Riyadh to host African Super Cup between Egyptian rivals Al Ahly, Zamalek
Updated 13 July 2024
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Riyadh to host African Super Cup between Egyptian rivals Al Ahly, Zamalek

Riyadh to host African Super Cup between Egyptian rivals Al Ahly, Zamalek

RIYADH: Riyadh will host the CAF Super Cup between two of Africa’s top teams in September, organizers announced on Friday.

The head-to-head will see the current African Champion League holders Al Ahly take on fellow Egyptian side Zamalek, who are the current African Confederation champions.

Confédération Africaine de Football President Patrice  Motsepe said: “The partnership between CAF and Saudi Arabia is based on the excellent relationship and mutual commitment of both parties.”

Turki Alalshikh said: "We are delighted to host the African Super Cup at Riyadh Season, which represents one of the most important tournaments on the African continent.”

The match will take place on Sept. 27, but the venue and kick-off time are yet to be announced.

Both teams clashed in the Egypt Cup in the Saudi capital in March, with Al Ahly beating their city rivals 2-0 and winning the trophy for the 39th time.

Al Ahly finished third in the Saudi-hosted FIFA Club World Cup in December, with English champions Manchester City defeating Brazil’s Fluminense in the final.