Qatar Launches Women’s Tour Event

PARIS, Jan 21, 2009 (AFP) - The Gulf state of Qatar will launch a women’s Tour event next month, bringing together 15 teams, including six national squads, and 90 riders.
The Ladies Tour of Qatar will run between February 8-10, following on from the Men’s Tour which runs from February 1-6.
Although 90 riders from 14 countries on five continents will gather for the three-stage race, there will be no local riders competing.
“A place for the women,” said Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali Abdulla al-Thani, head of the Qatari cycling federation.
“We hope to gradually develop women’s sport in Qatar,” Sheikh Khalid said, adding that the holding of the Tour event would be a “real boost” for women’s sport in the Muslim state.
Ladies Tour of Qatar teamsNuremberg (GER), Columbia (GER), Lotto (BEL), Giant (CHN), Flexpoint (NED), Leontien (NED), Selle Italia (ITA), Bigia (SUI), Cervelo (SUI); Australia, France, Italy, Japan, South Africa, United States
Source: http://www.bicycle.net/2009/qatar-launches-womens-tour-event


Sports for Peace Case - 2

First Arab-Israeli team: Teenage footballers play for peace in Middle East as Israel pounds Gaza

Published: Saturday, 10 Jan 2009

The pitch is scruffy, with bare patches of earth and sand. The crowd is desultory, half a dozen girls and boys, yawning in the winter sunshine of the Judean hills. The home players are having a lazy kickabout, as they wait for their opponents‘ bus to arrive.

As football games go, this is as ordinary as it gets. And yet the presence of a tiny FIFA film crew, for this apparently insignificant fixture, shows that something rather special is taking place.

In fact, the match scheduled to hold at the Jerusalem dormitory town of Mevaseret, might be recorded by future sports historians as one of those rare moments when sport was history, when sport made history.

It will be an epochal event like Jesse Owens‘ gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which alerted the world to Nazi racial theories. It will also be an event like the ping-pong diplomacy of the ‘70s, table tennis tournaments now seen as the first thaw in the Chinese and American Cold War.

But how can this game of youth football rank alongside those seminal episodes? To understand, you have to know the history of the two teams involved.

Football‘s Hidden Story reports that the home team is Katamon Abu Ghosh Mevaseret FC - ”Katamon” for short. The club was founded by one-time Israeli diplomat, Alon Liel. A few years ago, Liel approached the mayor of Abu Ghosh, a small Arab-Israeli town near Jerusalem, with the idea of combining Abu Ghosh‘s team with a mainly Jewish team from the larger settlement of Mevaseret.

According to the report, Liel‘s intention is to fight the anti-Arab feeling prevalent in sectors of Israeli football. ”The hatred exists mainly in places like Jerusalem, where there has been a lot of Palestinian terrorism. The fact that the Arab population in Israel often identifies with the Palestinian cause, leads to a very low level of trust,” said Liel.

Whatever the reason, this racism can be decidedly nasty. Liel recalls a match between the mixed Arab-Jewish team of Sakhnin, and Betar Jerusalem, one of the leading teams in Israel. ”For 90 minutes the Betar crowd chanted horrible things. They sang, ‘Ahmed, clean the toilets,‘ ‘Ahmed, get me coffee,‘ ‘Death to Arabs.‘‘

To help fight this racism, Liel had a working lunch with the mayor of Abu Ghosh. The mayor agreed to Liel‘s innovative proposal. Since then, the mixed-race football team they established has fought its way through the divisions, and now boasts a strong following of supporters. All three youth squads, attached to the club, combine Arab and Jewish players. The management of the club is likewise divided between Arabs and Jews.

The diversity of Katamon is written on the faces of the young players in Mevaseret for this match. Some of these faces are dark: they are Jews from Ethiopia, who speak Amharic. And some, of course, are Muslim.

There is Fawzi, just 15, and a right back, limbering up for the match. ”I like playing with this team. It‘s difficult for Arabs and Jews to play together normally. But here that‘s what we do - we play together, just like anyone else,” he explained.

The sports director of the team is 31-year-old Mohammad Isa from Abu Ghosh. He said, ”When kids reach their teens it is difficult to integrate them because they fall in love and marry within their own community. But if you start them young, it is easier. I hope we teach these Arab and Jewish kids not just to train together, but to learn from each other.”

The work of Katamon is well known in Israeli society. Liel has harnessed the energy of his mixed-race soccer team to other causes: helping kids from Darfur for example. He likes to think of Katamon as ‘socialist‘ in principle: assisting poor people anywhere.

But the match is a giant stride beyond anything Liel has attempted before. As 12 noon approaches, his face twitches with anxiety. Will the opponents even show? A proper crowd has gathered: alerted to the unusual nature of the game.

At last a big bus sweeps in. And the first person who alights is a woman with a white veil.

She is a Druze Arab, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. And her son belongs to the first Syrian-born football team ever to play in Israel.

A reporter from Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel‘s biggest selling Hebrew tabloid, has arrived. He explains why the game is very remarkable as the young players step down from the bus, with their parents and grandparents.

”These people, the Druze team, are being incredibly brave. They are Syrian nationals, even though they live in the Israeli-occupied zone. Syria has been at war with Israel for decades. Maybe one day Israel will give the Golan back to Syria. Then these people could be shot by the Syrian government: as Israeli spies. Yet they have come here, anyway, to play football. That shows great courage,” the journalist said.

The Druze belong to a religious sect whose beliefs deviate from those of mainstream Islam. They are over a million worldwide with 100,000 living in Israel. The players certainly look rather shy and anxious; Alon Liel rushes forward to reassure them.

It‘s a long and arduous road. The negotiations have been disowned by the respective governments, conscious of popular sentiment. Yet the urge for peace persists. Because without a conclusion to the Golan dispute, Israel can never be truly secure like any normal country.

And this football match is a crucial element of the normalisation of Syrian-Israeli relations. Alon Liel puts it bluntly, ”These Syrians would never have been allowed to come here without the tacit permission of the Damascus government. I see this match as a smile from Syria.”

At first there are not many smiles on the faces of the young and muscular Druze players. But as the match unfolds everyone starts to relax. The Druze team slot three goals past the weaker Israeli squad. At half time the friends and relatives of the Druze players hand out sweetmeats and pastries from Damascus and rosy red apples from the Golan orchards. It is a touching scene.

Rifat and Nedaq are a young couple from the Druze village of Majdal Shams, in the Golan. They are here to watch their brother play: a talented number 10, who has already whacked a brace of goals past the Arab-Israeli keeper for Katamon.

Rifat explains that this is the first time he has been to Jerusalem. ”I am a Syrian national. It is very difficult for the Golan Druze to travel, we do not have Israeli passports, nor do we have Syrian passports. But we are very happy to be here today. Moreso we are winning!”

He turns and cheers. The second half is something of a walkover. The final result is 7-1. The Israeli team hopes to do better when it plays the scheduled return leg, in the green hills of the Golan, a few weeks hence.

But the result, of course, is relatively unimportant. What remains in the mind is the sight of these players, from so many varied, remote and sometimes hostile cultures, brought together by a simple game.

And maybe that simplicity is the key. Make it any more complicated, any more significant, and it wouldn‘t work. Put it another way: peace begins not with politicians signing treaties in palatial halls, but with a shy Arab woman handing out Syrian pastries, to smiling Jewish kids on a scruffy football pitch.

Source: http://www.punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art200901104235123

Sports for Peace Case

Sports Talk: To be left out

By Alaa Abdel-Ghani
First Published: January 9, 2009

In 1960, South Africa was suspended by the International Olympic Committee and FIFA from participating in any regional or international sporting event because of its apartheid policy. The ban lasted 32 years until it was lifted in 1992 after Pretoria abandoned its racist policies.

In the midst of Israel's war crime in Gaza, perhaps a similar ban should be slapped on Israel.

A sports boycott of Israel would not be unprecedented. Following the 1973 war, Israel was kicked out of all Asian sports federations. In the years following, Israel had to travel all the way to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to find willing competitors. In 1993, Israel was eventually accepted into European sports bodies, enabling it to compete in many of the world’s most prestigious competitions, including the UEFA football cups.

Because Israel plays mainly in Europe, Israeli and Arab and Muslim athletes don't meet many times. But on occasion their paths cross and when they do, the encounter is bumpy. In the Athens Olympics, one of Iran's top gold medal prospects, Arash Miresmaeili, abruptly withdrew from competition after being paired against an Israeli judoka in the 66-kilogram class. Miresmaeili was a two-time world champion and would have been heavily favored to beat Israel's Ehud Vaks.

Miresmaeili was not the first Iranian judoka to forgo competing against an Israeli. At the 2001 World Championships, Mahed Malekmohammdi declined to compete against Israel's Yoel Razvozov, and Asian champion Masoud Haji Akhoundzade pulled out of a match against Israeli lightweight Zvi Shafran.

The first time Egypt and Israel were involved in a political sports boycott was in 1956. Several countries, including Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, boycotted the Olympic Games in Melbourne that year after the Tripartite Aggression.

Even after Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, sports competitions have been limited. One exception was a handball game in the early 1990s when the Israeli national team came to play in Egypt. The Egyptians took their political aggression out on the court, playing an especially hyper game which left several of the Israeli players knocked out; one came back with a broken nose. There also was a friendly soccer match between Jordan and Israel in the mid-1990s back when hopes were high for Middle East peace.

Our last involvement with Israel in sports was in October 2007 when Israel fielded six drivers and five bicyclists in the Pharaons International Cross Country Rally in Egypt. None of them produced admirable results.

Even in the relatively safe confines of Europe, Israeli athletes are not always welcome, especially these days. A Eurocup basketball game last week between a Turkish team and a visiting Israeli squad had to be called off after the Israeli players refused to continue with the match. They had become rattled in the face of rabid Turkish spectators, incensed by the Gaza massacre, who hurled coins and lighters at them, chanting "Israel, killers." Rubbing salt into the wound of the Israeli Bnei Hasharon team, who are stuck at the bottom of their Group D, the group's leaders Turk Telecom were awarded a technical victory. Hasharaon was deemed to have forfeited the game.

Sometimes a ban on one country boomerangs on another. Indonesia was banned from playing at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo for not inviting Israel to the Asia Games the year before. But in general, sports boycotts can have a great impact on the intended target. Major sports events confer international recognition and status on participating countries. International sporting events can play an important role in shaping a country's image in the rest of the world. And countries increasingly utilize sport to legitimize and promote themselves around the world. Take away sports, and you strip countries of their identity, credibility and legitimacy.

In the case of apartheid South Africa, the sports boycott effectively sent a message to the regime and its backers that the international community did not accept the institutionalized racism it practiced and played an important role in isolating the regime and its supporters.

There have been sports sanctions imposed on countries other than South Africa. Dozens of nations boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games following the invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union. In 1992 the UEFA banned Yugoslavia from the European Championship because of the war in Bosnia. In all cases, the boycott's aim was the same: To stop the aggressor from promoting itself as a fair player via the participation of its sporting teams and individuals, and to raise public awareness about the crimes being committed by the offending party.

A sporting boycott of Israel would send a powerful message that its wanton murders in Gaza are abhorrent and its occupation as a whole is unacceptable.

A common reaction to proposals for a sporting boycott is that politics and sports should not mix. As such, sports boycotts should be used only in exceptional circumstances. This could be one of them.

Source: http://dailystaregypt.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=18955


Netherlands: Muslim sues gym for headscarf ban

A Muslim woman from Schiedam lodged a complaint against a gym in Rotterdam, because she may not train while wearing a headscarf.She thinks the headscarf ban is discriminating. The Equal Treatment Commission (CGB) will raise the topic with the state secretary of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport Karima Bouhannouch (27) doesn't intend to back down. "There are already various decisions by the CGB about this topic. This nationally operating gym has a general policy not to allow any clothing on your head. Therefore also a bandanna that I wanted to wear as an alternative, wasn't allowed."The CGB sent her a letter saying the gym chain in question had already been warned for the same complain in Dordrecht and Den Bosch. Looking for another gym or not wearing anything on her head is not an option for Karima. "I want to wear a headscarf because of my religion."The fitness center was not available for comment.
Source: AD (Dutch)

Muslim Women in the World of Sport

The familial culture and adherence to fundamentals of Islam have a strong affect on girls access to, and participation in sport. Muslim women also represent an untapped market for athletic apparel companies who have only just begun to realize the potential. This session will unveil the Athlete Resource Guide for Muslim Girls and Women, a guide for physical education teachers and Muslim girls and women who want to participate more fully in active sport.
Presider: Sonja Lilienthal, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Speaker: Lailie Ibrahim, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA



The 5th World Conference on Women and Sport will be held in 2010 in Sydney, Australia.It is being organised under the auspices of the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) with the support of NSW Sport and Recreation, University of Technology Sydney and Sydney Olympic Park Authority.It follows those conferences held in Brighton, U.K. (1994); Windhoek, Namibia (1998), Montreal, Canada (2002) and Kumamoto, Japan (2006).The Organising Committee will publish information on this site in relation to dates, venues, themes etc as soon as it becomes available. To keep up to date with all the latest conference information and other news, make sure you subscribe to our e-newsletter by clicking here.This conference will provide an opportunity to:
Review the progress for women and sport since the 2006 World Conference on Women and Sport in Kumamoto, Japan, sharing experiences and celebrating achievements.
Strengthen international networks, both within sport and with outside agencies.
Foster inter-agency collaboration between international, regional, national and community levels.
Strengthen and support the development of Women and Sport within the Oceania Region.
Provide a vision for the continued development and progress of the global women and sport movement form 2010 - 2014.
The upcoming IWG World Conference in Sydney will offer a unique opportunity for participants to share experiences, strengthen international connections and find ways to stimulate action at local, national and international levels.The Conference program will be designed to promote interaction, emphasise practical experience and explore ways to support positive change.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND?The Conference is intended for women and men who make decisions or influence policy related to women and sport at all levels. Participants at the previous four conferences have represented:
International and National sport federations and organisations
Government Ministries and Departments and non-governmental organizations concerned with sport, health, physical activity, education, girls and women, youth and community development.
National Olympic and Paralympic Committees
Local, national and international media
Professionals in the fields of sport, physical activity, physical education, health and leisure
Past and current athletes
LANGUAGES: English will be the official language of the conference, to which others may be added based upon the delegates’ needs and preferences.
It is therefore very important that delegates whose language ability does not include English make it clear to the Organising Committee during registration, as additional languages may be added depending upon delegates requirements.