- Rip-roaring competition among last edition’s winners anticipated
The fourth edition of the region’s largest women’s sports tournament is only ten days away, and Sharjah Women Sports Foundation (SWSF), is steadily releasing all essential information viewers need to stay up to date with the matches they don’t want to miss.
Organisers have announced that the Arab Women Sport Tournament (AWST 2018), being held under the auspices of the wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of SWSF, will be inaugurated with competitions in the three sports of basketball, fencing and karate.
Staring February 3, basketball competitions will be held every day until February 12. The competition dates for fencing and karate (new category added to the tournament this year), are February 3 and 4. A total of nine sports will be played at AWST 2018 including volleyball, archery, shooting, table tennis, athletics and equestrian show-jumping.
In basketball, the first sport registered at AWST, stiff competition is expected among UAE, Jordan and Egypt clubs. All strong contenders for this year’s gold, Jordan’s Fhais Club will try to claim the trophy that it narrowly lost to the UAE last year with a 66-46 result in the finals. Egypt will come back this year trying to up itself from the third place they secured in 2016.
A total of seven clubs will participate in the basketball competitions, with first-timers, Girl Sport Club from Bahrain, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs Talents Club, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and Mogadishu Club from Somalia.
Three clubs will be competing in fencing; a number that is suspected to rise if Algeria confirms participation. Sharjah Ladies Club (SLC) will represent the UAE, while Al Halia Sport Club will come in from Bahrain. KSA will participate for the first time and will be represented by Saudi Arabian Fencing Federation Club. Defending champion, Hamda Al Qubaisi, from the UAE will be aiming for the big win again this year.
Much anticipation and excitement surrounds AWST’s newest category of sport – karate – which is more celebrated than ever since it has been added to the official list of Olympics sports. This far, 11 clubs have registered to compete and emerge victorious in both ‘Kata’ and ‘Kumite’, that is, individual and team competitions, respectively. A host of seasoned female athletes from SLC will be competing on behalf of the UAE, and all eyes will be on Egypt’s famous Nibukan Sport Club, who is famous in region for its excellence in the sport.
Other clubs that will compete in karate are Girl Sport Club from Kuwait, Peshmerga Club from Iraq, Girls Sport Club from Bahrain, Bait Al Maqdes Club from Morocco and Al Ahli Bank Club from Somalia. Two more clubs will participate from KSA and Algeria, and will be announced once they confirm their participation in the tournament.
HE Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Chairperson of AWST Supreme Organising Committee, Head of AWST Executive Committee and Director General of SWSF, said: “We are delighted to see this turnout of participants at AWST’s nine sports, especially in basketball, fencing and karate. This is primarily the reason for us to be featuring them at the very onset of the fourth edition.”
“Featuring karate in the list of sports this year reflects our commitment to making the region as fertile as possible for female athletes to professionally peruse and compete in a variety of sporting disciplines at a level that is practiced internationally. The fact that karate has been added to the list of official Olympics sports enhances the decision’s significance,” she added.
This far, the organising committee has confirmed the participation of 1,000 female athletes from 69 clubs in 17 GCC and MENA countries. The number of participating clubs is likely to increase in view of on-going submissions, especially by Algerian clubs who will compete in eight of the nine sports.
Al Naqbi has pointed out that the increase in these numbers underscores the efforts of the Supreme Organising Committee of AWST’s fourth edition, under the directives of the wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi. All of last year, the committee toured the Arab world extensively, promoting the tournament and ensuring the participation of as many Arab sportswomen as possible in the largest women sporting event in the Arab world.