Sekoula wants to run for Fiji

ELFIN Sekoula Diwaqa practically flies when she sprints down a 100-metre.
One of the tiniest in her sub junior grade this Form 1 student of Nabala Secondary School awed the crowd when she easily snapped up 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay finals for her grade at the Macuata Zone II meet.
But Diwaqa is so shy you can barely hear her voice above the din of screaming cheers.
She quietly celebrated her victory by being hugged by her team mates before disappearing into the crowd.
There were no boasts about who she would defeat when she competes at the Coke Games in Suva in May.
All this 12-year-old from Namakomako Village wanted to say was that she liked to run.
"I run everyday at the ground in my village," she said.
"I took part in the Milo Games and I was training hard everyday in school so that I could come and play here today," she said.
"I've been running since I was very small and I knew that it was something that I was good at but my teachers tell me that if I want to become the best in this I have to work hard at it," she said.
"I have to eat the right food so I don't eat junk foods ... only healthy foods in the village like rourou and bele."
Diwaqa had all the more reason to smile when she was named best female athlete of the meet ahead of about 100 other female athletes.
"I never dreamt that today would be such a happy one for me.
"This will make my parents even happier."
Diwaqa has a dream and that is representing the country at major sporting events like the Pacific Games.
As she walked up to receive her award for being the best female athlete at the Labasa Muslim College grounds the announcer said the people there were looking at a future Makelesi Bulikiobo.
And why not.


Saudi women fight to stop gym closures

Dubai, 23 March (AKI) - A group of young Saudi women have begun a campaign to protest against a government decision to close all the country's female gyms that are not linked to a hospital or health body. According to Arab TV network Al-Arabiya, the women have adopted the slogan, 'Let them get fat', while complaining about the high cost of sports centres linked to official health organisations.They have also appealed to the minister and to the secretary in the municipality of the coastal city of Jeddah to review their decision.
The young women are particularly concerned since they do not have the means to go to 'official' gyms and believe this government decree will be bad for their health. That view was endorsed by Maha, who enrolled at a gym six months ago and lost 21 kilogrammes.
While she said she has several pieces of gym equipment at home, she prefers to go to a gym where she gains support and encouragement.Another woman, Umm Abd al-Aziz said practising sport is a way of a "moment of relief" and going to a fitness club is the only way to release the tension accumulated at home."Where can we go now that the gyms are closing?" the woman asked. Sara Abd al-Aziz asked why men are permitted to practise sport in gyms that do not depend on a health authority, while women cannot, although they have the same needs. She said women actually have more need for sport than men since they experience different phases of their lives, such as pregnancy and birth, and also suffer from many pressures without finding any relief.In response to the protests, the deputy-director of Jeddah's public relations office, Ahmad al-Ghamidi, said the provincial secretary has the right to close female gyms which lack the appropriate licenses, and said a regulatory body is currently carrying out inspections to make sure they follow the rules.
Source: http://thewomenofislam.blogspot.com/2009/03/out-takes-short-news-stories.html


Almitu Bekele won a gold medal in the women's 3,000-meter event

Even though athletics is one of the most ancient sports in the world, this sport was not introduced to Turkey until the 1870s by Galatasaray High School's Monsieur Curel, a physical education teacher originally from France.

The sport gained popularity after the foundation of the Turkish Athletics Foundation in 1922, but now interest in it is waning. Today in Turkey, the leading competitors in athletics are not only foreign born, but are also women. Almitu Degfa Bekele, one such athlete, has recently gained popularity in Turkey. She is originally from Ethiopia, but she has become a Turkish citizen. Bekele won a gold medal in the women's 3,000-meter event last Sunday in Turin at the European indoor championships, making her the first Turkish medal winner in an indoor athletics competition. Ethiopian-born Elvan Abeylegesse, who enjoys great popularity in Turkey, has won two Olympic medals in athletics for Turkey. The Turks have won only won four Olympic medals in athletics since they officially joined the Olympic fold in 1908.
Elvan and Bekele came to Turkey around 10 years ago, but "these athletes achieved their best rankings in Turkey," said Turkish Athletics Federation President Mehmet Terzi.
Federation stands firm
While some sports writers criticize the federation for allowing foreign-born stars to join Turkish athletics, the federation stands behind these athletes. The leading Turkish athletics coach, Ertan Hatipoğlu, who was Elvan's trainer and who now works with Bekele, said foreign athletes are important for the development of the sport in Turkey.
"It is not true that we -- the federation-- seek foreign athletes. We only take the athletes who will be catalysts for developing athletics in Turkey and who will be competitive against other countries in the international arena," said Terzi. Previously, the athletics team included 11 foreign athletes who raced for Turkey, but Terzi noted that the number has now dropped to only six.
Terzi emphasizes that sport clubs -- not the federation -- are bringing foreign athletes to Turkey. The athletes later become Turkish citizens, allowing them to join the federation and wear the Turkish jersey.
He highlighted the federation's efforts to train Turkish-born athletes, and is enthusiastic about many promising young athletes. "The backbone of this sport is composed of foreign athletes, but that does not mean we are not training Turkish athletes as well. We've developed numerous programs for young Turkish athletes. Some have even achieved success in international youth competitions. For example, Merve Aydın was runnerup in the women's 800-meter race in the World Youth Championship [last summer], and Nevin Yanıt finished first in the women's 100-meter hurdle race at the U-23 European Championship. Yanıt also has made it to the semifinals of numerous big athletics events. They and others will be quite successful in the future," Terzi added.
Athletics coach Hatipoğlu attributed the domination of athletics in Turkey by foreign athletes to the structure of the educational system: "Young people cannot participate in sports due to the educational system in this country. They have to prepare for many exams, from the ÖSS [Student Selection Examination] to the KPSS [State Personnel Examination]." He added that the federation does not deserve the harsh criticism it receives for relying on foreign athletes.
The names or nationalities of athletes do not matter to Hatipoğlu: "For me, discipline and the integrity of the sport are important. I will train any athlete, regardless of nationality."
The Youth and Sports General Directorate (GSGM), which is the umbrella institution for most of the sports federations in Turkey, works hard to improve athletics, but Turkey still lacks facilities. "We still do not have an indoor athletics facility, but a world indoor championship will by hosted by Turkey in 2012. Five indoor athletics facilities will be built before 2012," he said.
The word "devşirme," an Ottoman word meaning "collecting, gathering," has been used to criticize the practice of recruiting foreigners into Turkish athletics. "Devşirme" originally refers to the Ottoman practice of recruiting boys of non-Muslim origin into the army and the government.
Abeylegesse, who won two silver medals in the 2008 Olympic Games, said she is a Turk and does not like to be treated as a foreigner; she is insulted by the connotation of being labeled a product of "devşirme."
Terzi refuses to use this expression: "Every country accepts foreign athletes. In our case, the sports clubs recruit them and we adopt those who excel in the sport and will be important to its development," he said.
In athletics, teammates often have to race against each other and therefore have no team spirit, said Hatipoğlu, adding: "It does not matter which country's passport you have."
Hatipoğlu points to the French national soccer team, which has more foreign players than natives, asking, if they can still enjoy the success of their athletes, why can't Turkey?
Hatipoğlu further stated: "Recently, women have become more successful in athletics than men in Turkey. In the recent past, there were many male champions. But now, women seem to be more successful in athletics. It is an indication of modernization, in my opinion. Besides, women are more determined and self disciplined."
The trainer also noted that it is harder for a man to change nationality than for a woman. "A woman can change her nationality by getting married, but a man cannot," he added.



BackSoftball campaign’s commitment to promoting the sport among women around the world has been gaining momentum as evidenced by recent school activity in Iran.
Over the past few years the Middle-Eastern state has demonstrated diverse participation levels in softball, one of the few team sports which have captured the imagination of Islamic women.
Last week, Iran Softball Federation President Hossein Sadegh Abedin and secretary general Faramarz Sangini went to Dashti city in southern Iran to watch more than 50 girls ranging from primary school to high school levels who are playing softball on a regular basis.
ISF President Don Porter said: “The BackSoftball team has shown the International Olympic Committee time and again that we are committed to extending the popularity of our sport across the world, particularly to women and young people. The fact that it is simple to learn and cheap to play and that other sports stadia can be used to stage major games underlines how accessible the sport is. I’m delighted to hear that softball is growing in Iran.”
It would have been inconceivable in the early 1980s, in the early years after the Islamic revolution when competitive sports for women were strongly discouraged, for Iranian women to play a team sport such as softball. But the sport, which is simple to learn and inexpensive to play, can be played in discreet dress and is therefore particularly important to increasing sports participation opportunities among Muslim women, a key value of the IOC.
The first women’s softball championship in Iran took place in Tehran in 2005, with five teams competing at a football (soccer) ground. There are now more than 15 cities in Iran that promote participation in softball.
This is further proof of the ISF’s commitment to extend the reach of softball after a hugely successful Beijing Olympic Games last year, which enjoyed sellout crowds. The gold medal game of the women’s fast pitch event was won by Japan, with huge television audiences around the world watching their victory over the USA.
Source: http://www.sportsfeatures.com/index.php?section=press-point-view&title=SOFTBALL%20POPULARITY%20GROWS%20AMONG%20IRANIAN%20WOMEN&id=48813


Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team beats Sri Lanka by 57-runs in World Cup

Pakistan Women Cricket team has just trumped a 57-run win over Sri Lanka at the Women’s World Cup in Sydney.
Pakistan totalled 161-7 from their 50 overs and then bowled out Sri Lanka for just 104, with medium-pacer Qanita Jalil taking 3-33 from eight overs.
Sri Lanka never recovered from losing their first three wickets with only 28 on the board and although captain Shashikala Siriwardene made 58 from 11 balls, she lacked the support necessary to steer them towards their target. She was eventually run out by Javeria Khan and the game ended when Sana Mir, who had contributed an unbeaten 22 earlier in the game, had Sripali Weerakkody caught to finish with figures of 2-18.
Urooj Mumtaz the captains of Pakistan Womens Cricket team - blog post after the victor in the Girls Aloud Blog
"Can I begin by thanking everybody for their comments and
messages on my last blog. I read all of your words of encouragement and it was
very much appreciated following the disappointment of Saturday’s defeat to
I promised to the people of Pakistan ahead of today’s
game against Sri Lanka that we would bounce back and I don’t think anybody could
have expected a better performance than the one we put in today. I said at the
weekend, after our loss against India, that we didn’t play up to our potential
and that we would be fine if we got things right in all three key departments –
batting, bowling and fielding – and that is what we did today.
We have been
waiting for years to beat Sri Lanka and it was the perfect day to win – the
first time a Pakistan side had won in 19 matches against them and the first time
Pakistan has won a match at the ICC Women’s World Cup. To be part of this moment
of history and to captain the side makes me extremely proud. We know we have
taken a vital step towards making it to the Super Six stage now, as Sri Lanka
faces a difficult last match against India, so it is extremely exciting that we
may get a chance to face the likes of Australia and New Zealand next
After registering a decent total against Sri Lanka, which could have
been higher if any of the girls who got good starts had gone onto make a big
score, we knew that we had to take early wickets. I got an excellent response
from all of my bowlers, having made a conscious decision to hold back Ismavia
(Iqbal) from the opening overs, and once we got some early breakthroughs I was
always confident of victory.
There were a few tears coming out of my eyes at
the end and it was a special moment to get this win in front of my parents. My
father has really helped me with my game, while my mother is always very
supportive of what I do.
To celebrate the victory tonight, some of the team
are going to come out for dinner with my parents, while other players will be
with their families, before we gather all together at the hotel for a
celebration later on. We won’t go too crazy though as we know we have another
important group match on Thursday.
We are all really looking forward to
playing against England in our next match and I am excited that the game will be
broadcast live on television. I hope that people at home will tune in to watch
the match so that we can prove to people in Pakistan that women can play
Pakistan next play England on Thursday in their final first-round fixture.
A many hearty Congratulations to the Pakistani Womens Cricket Team, may the continue the surge for more victories onwards.


Shirzanan’s Interview with Persepolis Futsal team head coach

We just pretend to be professionals
Shirzanan: “why shouldn’t I be paid like a male coach? Why our female soccer players don’t have a contract similar to male players? We could dedicate all our time to soccer if our payments were just. We all have other jobs and Futsal is our second or third job. A male soccer player in Iran gets paid around 150 million Tomans, a female player gets one tenth of that amount.” says Mahnaz Amirshaghaghy, Persepolis women’s Futsal team head coach. Amirshaghaghy is one of the founders of women’s Futsal in Iran. (Futsal is an indoor soccer game.)
Ms. Amirshaghaghy describes women’s sports in Iran as; “ We are all great actresses, we all pretend to be professionals, but we really aren’t.”
When did you begin working on Futsal?
Since 1996 we started Futsal in Hijab gymnasium. Back then Futsal was new and with the help of Ms. Nazarali, Saleh and Karamzadeh we decided to activate indoor soccer game for women. For the first two years we had limited the competitions in Tehran Province. From 1998 we officially held competitions all over the country.
Did you have enough Futsal trainers and coaches?
I was the only coach at the beginning. In 1997 we had a general coaching course for Futsal and 8 coaches took that course. Latter on the number increased.
When did you form the national women’s Futsal League?
The first official competition was in 2000; different clubs and private investors supported the league and we could form the national league. We named the first team after Hijab gymnasium. Although the team had many names back then, because of the sponsors the name changes. Right now we are supported by Persepolis club and the name of the team is Persepolis.
Did the team ever attend the national league without any sponsers?
Yes. Before we play for Persepolis club I was managing the team on my own. Before that we worked with Azad University. We had some problems with them so we decided to work without any sponsor. The problems varied from an unorganized management to commuting services. It was very stressful.
Do you have fewer problems with Persepolis sponsorship?
Yes. Everything works better. If we were sponsored by them from the beginning we might have the championship by now.
What is a female Futsal player’s salary in general?
Of course the conditions are far from any professional Futsal league. We are all university educated and active players but we get paid way less. The highest salary of a female Futsal player is 200 thousand Tomans (around $200).
How did the changes in Iran’s Football Federation affected women’s Futsal? Is it better now under the new management?
I think Ms. Shojaie, the new deputy manager in football federation, is helping wome’s soccer in general. [In comparison with the former managers] Before I didn’t have much say in National team, despite the fact that many of my players were chosen for the national team.
Do you think Iran women ‘s Futsal can get to a high place in Asia like Iran men’s Futsal?
Look, men’s team are really professional, women ‘s sport is not; because of our payments I as a head coach should work three job. If we get more financial support we can get to a professional level. As I said before right now we only pretend to be professional.


Shirzanan: The First Iranian Women Sports Magazine

Shirzanan (شير زنان or literally 'Lion-Women' in Persian) is an online weekly magazine and the first publication on Iran women's sports.

Shirzanan’s main page is in Persian and it focuses on women’s sports in Iran and other Muslim countries. Shirzanan's first issue was published online in May 21st 2007. It publishes every week on Saturdays and it covers news on women’s sport within and outside Iran and it covers national and international women’s sport issues on its different areas:

  • news report

  • editorial

  • interview

  • photo

  • video report

The website explains its origins in this way: “It was first in the year 2000 that the idea of this weekly magazine was presented to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (in Iran) in order to get the publication permission. After 4 years of bureaucratic process and endless hardship the proposal for a sport magazine dedicated to women’s sports was rejected.”
In addition Shirzanan writes: “The first Iranian women’s sports weekly magazine, Shirzanan, aims to fill the lack of the news coverage in the national media on women sports in Iran. Shirzanan is a private magazine.” Shirzanan’s editorial board includes journalists and reporters who have been working closely with Iran’s national press.
One of the most significant parts of Shirzanan is its photo report page. This is the first time that the images of Iran women’s national teams - in different fields - are being published. Shirzanan also has an English version, which translates its main page from Persian to English.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirzanan

New WSI member designs sportswear for active Muslim women

Aheda Zanetti, Managing Director of Ahiida, recently joined WSI as a member.Her company, Ahiida, is an Australian owned company that designs and produces quality swimwear and sportswear, for example the ‘burkini”. Ahiida garments are designed with the respect of Islamic values and aimed to enhance the lifestyle of the active Muslim female.Sports clothing requirements can be a barrier for Muslim girls and women who want to play sports due to cultural and religious beliefs. Ahiida is addressing this issue by providing specialised sportswear to suit the Muslim female allowing Muslim women to compete in sports with confidence.For more information on Ahiida’s products please check out their website http://www.ahiida.com/.


The First Palestinian Women’s Soccer Team

Starting Small – Aiming HighBy Samar Araj Mousa Why a girls’ team? A girls’ national soccer team under occupation!
The founders of the team, and several enthusiastic girls who love to play soccer, got together in the town of Bethlehem to form the nucleus of the first girls’ soccer club. The goal was simple: Create new opportunities for Palestinian girls. Enhance the concept and practice of equality between the sexes. Raise awareness within Palestinian society about the rights of young girls. Send the message to Palestinian girls that they can do whatever boys can do, and better! And finally the founders hoped to open more venues for girls to have fun/explore new things in life, live their potential, and have the possibility to make their dreams come true.
Occupation or no occupation, Palestinian children have the right to dream. They should dare to challenge themselves. They should and can, amid the spectre of death and destruction, enjoy their youth, act out their dreams, and have fun. Even though the Israeli occupation remains a key stumbling bloc - movement restrictions are still in place, scores of checkpoints separate communities within the West Bank, and the Separation Wall dissects the whole area and divides families and robs dreams - a very small group of involved Palestinians looked beyond the daily dose of humiliation and frustration and laid the groundwork for forming the first Palestinian girls’ soccer team. Though volunteers - the coach, trainers, and support staff are committed and determined to help make the dream become a reality.
The team was formed in early 2002 - a bold new move in Palestinian society. The beginnings came when a couple, a husband and a wife who both majored in physical education in college, decided to help young Palestinian girls take their hobby one notch up. The husband ran the Beit Sahour Youth Club (near Bethlehem). He began to recruit a few young girls who were eager to play soccer and be part of a girls’ team, with a trainer who volunteered his time. Encouraged by the girls’ desire and by the enthusiasm shown by the parents, he started to hold practice sessions for more girls. Meanwhile, his wife, who is in charge of the Bethlehem University Athletic Department, began to train what later became the nucleus of the first Palestinian women’s soccer team. The problem was that the number of players did not amount to 11 - the number needed to form a team, not to mention substitutes! In a conservative society, seeing half a dozen university students coming forward to start an organised soccer practice was similar to breaking a taboo. Despite the difficulties and hiccups, a semi-structured soccer practice took off.
The Sports and Youth Directorate at the Palestinian Ministry of Sports took an interest in and supported the formation of an all-girls national team and lent support to the work of the Beit Sahour Youth Club in its effort to promote the sport among young girls who would train to join the national team. Meanwhile the FIFA Federation encouraged the formation of women’s soccer teams worldwide. The Arab Soccer Federation took up the challenge, and several Arab women’s soccer teams were formed. Because few women showed interest, the first Arab women’s friendly soccer competition was limited to teams of five from the countries that took part in the first tournament of its kind in 2003, in Amman. The same arrangement (five players from each competing country) took part in the 2004 competition. The Palestinian team participated in both. With the increasing popularity of the Arab women’s soccer team, the Arab Soccer Federation decided that from 2005, women’s soccer competitions would take place with full teams (11 players).
The first full Palestinian women’s soccer team took part in the West Asia Women’s Soccer Championship in September 2005. It gave the team the opportunity to play against much more established, better trained, and better equipped teams. It also gave the team management the opportunity to assess the needs, take the team forward, and lay the groundwork for training a full team capable of competing regionally and one day internationally. The team trains on a regular basis in Bethlehem with a capable trainer who volunteers his time and effort. Other players, who do not have Israeli permits to enter Bethlehem, train in Ramallah and Jericho. Intense training sessions enabled the team to take part in the first Arab Women’s Soccer Championship that took place in Abu Dhabi on 20 February 2006. This championship enabled the players to gain a wealth of experience playing against well-structured and well-trained teams who enjoy great support, facilities, and trained staff.
The Palestinian team also participated in the German Protestant Kirchentag in Koln from 2 to 19 June 2007, and played in various other competitions and friendly games in Koln, Koblenz, Lof, and Freiburg.
Recently, the team participated in the 5th International Amman Club Tournament for Women’s Futsal in April 2008, and came in first among 16 international teams.
Starting small and aiming high has paid off! And many thanks go not only to Bethlehem University for supporting the creation of the Palestinian women’s soccer team but also to Al Watania for its financial support. Samar Araj Mousa is the Athletics Director at Bethlehem University, the manager of the Palestinian Women’s National Soccer Team, the general secretary of the Palestinian Tennis Association, and a member of the Palestine Olympic Committee. She can be reached at samarm@bethlehem.edu.