The Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST), organised by Sharjah Women’s Sports (SWS), has broken a personal record. The tournament’s Supreme Organising Committee (SOC) has announced the largest participation in its eight-year history with a record number of 74 clubs from 16 Arab countries, which will be competing in the fifth edition.
Set to run from Feb.2–12 in Sharjah, AWST 2020 will be held under the patronage of Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of SWS.
The announcement was made at a press conference on Wednesday at the iconic Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 Monument, in the presence of Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Head of the SOC of AWST; Issa Hilal Al Hizami, Secretary-General of the Sharjah Sports Council; Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Head of the SOC of AWST, Head of the Executive Committee and Director General of SWS; Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO, Advisor and General Manager of Etisalat – Northern Emirates; and Rashid Al Obaid, Director of Sharjah Sports Channel.
During the event, SOC revealed that the UAE topped the list with 14 participating clubs, followed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with 12 clubs, which is the highest number of clubs from KSA that has signed up to compete in any edition of AWST.
The Committee also confirmed that nine clubs will be representing Bahrain, while Jordan, Kuwait, and Algeria would participate in the sporting event with six clubs each.
The rest of the participating countries include Egypt with 4 clubs; Libya, Sudan, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia, and Palestine with two clubs each; and Oman, Iraq, and Morocco with one each.
The committee announced that UAE and Bahrain will compete in all nine sports: shooting, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, athletics, show jumping, fencing, archery and karate. Saudi Arabia will compete in all sports except shooting.
Kuwait is gearing up to take part in the shooting, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, archery and karate competitions, while Egyptian clubs will compete in shooting, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, archery and karate.
Jordanian sportswomen will be aiming for top spots in basketball, volleyball, table tennis, athletics, show jumping, and karate. Algerian athletes will concentrate on volleyball, table tennis, archery, karate, shooting and basketball, while Libya will participate in table tennis, athletics, and karate.
Sudanese athletes will compete in athletics, show jumping, and archery, while Syrian sportswomen will take part in volleyball and karate. The Tunisian teams will compete in volleyball and basketball, while Palestinian sportswomen will test their might in athletics and karate. Shooting will be the only sport Omani athletes will participate in, while Qatari sportswomen will compete in fencing and shooting. Iraq and Morocco too will participate in only one sport each, archery and table tennis, respectively.
In a keynote speech, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi stressed that Sharjah’s commitment to organising this biennial tournament reiterates its firm belief that sports is more than a past time or a hobby; it is a social and human right. He noted that the state of sports in a country was an indicator of its advancement.
He said: “We consider AWST as our message to the rest of the Arab societies, a bridge for collaboration, and a platform for Arab sportswomen. Since the beginning, Sharjah has worked tirelessly to make sports accessible to everyone. The emirate founded many institutions, including the Sharjah Sports Council, to achieve that goal. We can proudly say that we are on the crest of achieving this monumental development goal.”
Abdulaziz said: “It is a great honour for Etisalat to sponsor some of the prestigious sporting events, including AWST, which brings together world-class athletes from clubs in the UAE and the Arab world. This step aligns with our philosophy of leading the efforts to support community initiatives in the UAE, in line with the national ideal of empowering women across all fields, especially in sports.”
“The UAE is committed to developing effective plans and strategies to support women in all walks of life. We also believe in the role of sports in maintaining and improving the physical and mental health of society members. We wish the next edition of AWST great success, where players will be able to achieve their sporting dreams,” he added.