Saudi prince: Girls' sports OK

RIYADH (Saudi Arabia) - APPEALING to a powerful Saudi prince, an 8-year-old girl asked why she was not allowed to play sports in school like boys. She got an unexpected response: The prince said he hoped government schools for girls would allow playing fields.
The stand taken by Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of the holy city of Mecca and one of the most senior second-generation members of the royal family, on the controversial issue is the strongest official endorsement so far of women's sports and a sign the government may be tilting toward opening up on that front.
Physical education classes are banned in state-run girls schools in conservative Saudi Arabia. Saudi female athletes are not allowed to participate in the Olympics.
Women's games and marathons have been cancelled when the powerful clergy get wind of them. And some clerics even argue that running and jumping can damage a woman's hymen and ruin her chances of getting married.
Like other restrictions on women in the kingdom, including the ban on driving and voting, the prohibitions on sports stem from the strict version of Islam the kingdom follows. Conservative clerics have strong influence on government and society, and they ban anything they believe might lead to women's emancipation or encourage women to abandon conservative Muslim values.
Despite the obstacles, there has been some progress in the past couple of years on this issue. Some Saudi women have quietly been forming soccer, basketball, volleyball and other teams throughout the kingdom.
Princess Adelah, King Abdullah's daughter, recently spoke publicly about the need to 'seriously and realistically look into the issue of introducing sports in girls' schools because of the rise in diseases linked to obesity and lack of movement', according to Al-Riyadh newspaper. About 52 per cent of Saudi men and 66 per cent of women are either obese or overweight, according to Saudi press reports.
Prince Khaled's remarks, which he made at the launch of a project Monday aimed at developing cultural and sporting activities in the western city of Jiddah, gives a boost to these individual efforts.
The prince is interested in sports and has served as head of the General Presidency for Youth Welfare, the federation that oversees it. -- AP
Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking+News/Sport/Story/STIStory_394763.html


visit of Iranian Women footballers to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Jul 8 (APP): Iranian Women football team will participate in the 5th National Women Football Championship of Pakistan being held here at Jinnah Stadium, Pakistan Sports Complex, from July 29-August 11.According to Robina Irfan, Chairperson of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s Women Wing, the attraction of the event will be inclusion of Iranian team.
In 2007 edition of this championship, Afghanistan were the foreign team to compete, finishing runners-up.
Robina said four top teams of 2nd National women club football Championship - holders Young Rising Star Women Football Club (YRSWFC), Balochistan United, Karachi’s Diya Club, Lahore’s Sports Sciences Department of Punjab University- have been allowed to take part in the championship alongside teams from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, NWFP, Northern Areas, FATA, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Islamabad,Pakistan WAPDA and Police.
The Managers’ Meeing a day before the kick-off will select the 16th team to play in the event.
“Countries like Pakistan are free to promote women’s soccer within the limits of their culture and religion. FIFA gave freedom to the individual countries to develop this sport among their womenfolk within the prescribed parameters of their culture and religion,” said Robina.
She emphasised that due to commitment, dedication of PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat women soccer is finding respectable position in Pakistan’s sports.
Punjab won the inaugural event in 2005 under superb coaching of Abdul Hafeez Malik, followed by WAPDA’s triumph in 2006.
Then came the turn of University and a club to snatch golds:
Lahore’s Sports Sciences Department in 2007 and Young Rising Star WFC in 2008.
She called PFF President’s work on Women soccer a milestone. “PFF has made great strides in women’s football under PFF chief. His decision to hire a full-time administrator dedicated to the women’s game has helped to open up competition and education doors for female footballers and officials in the country,” said Robina, who is also member of POA and Islamic Federation of Women Sport (IFWS)’s Medicine Committee.
Also Balochistan Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Robina added “FIFA is keen to develop women’s football in all countries but nations like Pakistan could retain their traditions like women-only spectators, players wearing full trousers instead of shorts, etc.
In Iran, women play and enjoy football while wearing full Hijab, she said.
PFF will conduct fifth national women championship, with organizers hoping the event will inspire up-and-coming female footballers in the Muslim country. With the unprecedented patronage of the PFF, the senior footballers hope the event will create huge interest in the new generation. concluded Robina.

Bangladeshi Muslim girls have been inspired

FORMER international table tennis star Grant Solder has been crowned Britain's Best Local Business.
The hard-working 36-year-old businessman was thrilled to win the title in our brilliant Barclays-backed competition.
The Grant Solder Sports Agency provides coaches, mentors, course planning, structuring and management to schools, youth clubs, and local authorities.
Grant was one of nine regional finalists to be judged by a panel of experts led by Theo Paphitis, star of TV hit Dragons' Den and boss of the High Street stationery chain Ryman.
Grant was awarded a trophy and cheque for ?20,000 plus a mentoring session with Theo.
Afterwards he said: "I am absolutely delighted to have been recognised as running Britain's Best Local Business.
"It's a real honour. I have always been proud of the work and achievements of our agency and this is the icing on the cake for all the long hours and dedication that goes into our work."
Grant, who lives in Gidea Park, Essex with his partner Kelly and their nine-year-old son Bailey, launched the business ten years ago with the aim of supplying table tennis coaches to East London schools.
But now through his website grantsoldersportsagency.com they supply experts in activities ranging from football to cheer-leading, scuba diving and kickboxing across the capital.
The agency provides an income for 40 coaches it commissions on a project-by-project basis to work with up to 50 schools and organisations - and they are looking to recruit more.
Grant represented England at table tennis for nine years and was also a coach to the national junior team.
He loves to work at grass roots level, introducing sport with high coaching standards into challenging areas in London, where he delivers tangible results.
His staff have been told that as a result of their coaching, schools start to see improved behaviour, concentration and attendance.
The business is not all about profit for Grant. Agency coaches will often work at cost price or go to work in the community or on charity days for free.
And now, after speaking with Theo, he is looking to expand and roll out the agency nationwide.
Rashid Benallal, who nominated Grant's agency in the competition, said: "Their work breeds success, confidence, communication, organisation, discipline and many more skills which are transferable in future jobs.
"One of the main focuses and incredible accomplishments has been through table tennis.
"This scheme was set up at Morpeth Secondary School seven years ago and encouraged children from all backgrounds and religions.
"Bangladeshi Muslim girls have been inspired, which is a huge achievement because they rarely participate in sport due to cultural differences. The scheme has created many success stories, for example getting kids off the street to achieve success in sport and winning titles.
"In light of these successes, the table tennis team has had opportunities to present to the Prime Minister for the Olympic Games bid and even for the Queen.
"Many jobs have been created for previous players at the school, which has a significant impact in helping the younger squad to develop.
"This has led the scheme to expand to primary schools and allow more coaching from ex-pupils."
Theo said: "This business was selected for its hard work and determination to make a difference in East London.
"We were particularly impressed that the business is providing an outlet for underprivileged youngsters to access sport.
"It was felt that this business was helping develop our next generation of communities with the aim of improving the community spirit in tougher locations."
Deanna Oppenheimer, Chief Executive, Barclays UK Retail Banking, said: "This campaign with The Sun has shown how passionate many people are for their local business.
"More than 4,000 people nominated businesses that, time and again, have gone the extra mile and beyond.
"We have heard amazing stories, from the chemist who personally delivered medicines in the snow, to the hairdresser who puts on fashion shows for charity.
"It's an honour to help tell these stories. More and more, I realise this competition hasn't been just about great businesses, but great people."
Steve Cooper, Managing Director of Local Business at Barclays, said: "I was blown away by the regional and national winners.
"These businesses have a huge impact on their local communities, both in providing jobs and in bringing people together."
"These local business owners make it clear that, though the economic environment is tough, our entrepreneurs have the passion and commitment to come through with flying colours.
"Congratulations from Barclays to the winners, and all who took part or were nominated in the campaign."
Source: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/money/backingbritbiz/2526831/Ping-gong-for-coaching-guru.html