Conference reflects growing interest:Yemeni women’s sporting events promoted [Archives:2005/815/Sports]

February 10 2005

Interviewed by Adel Al-Khawlani
Yemen Times Staff

The Yemeni Olympic Committee (YOC) is enthusiastic about the importance of women's representation in international events and has played an integral role in boosting the presence of women in various sporting organizations. They also encourage handicapped women competitors in the annual Olympic Day Run.

One of the most important events to be hosted in Yemen under the supervision of the

YOC is the conference on Woman and Sports scheduled for May 11-12, 2005.

To discuss events behind the scenes of the conference and Yemen's interest in women's sports, the Yemen Times forwarded the following questions to Mrs Naseem Ahmad al-Milaiki, Head of Woman and Sports Group at the Yemeni Olympic Committee and Coordinator of the Conference.

Q: What can you tell us about the history of women's sport in Yemen, and which games practiced by Yemeni women?

A: The movement of women's sports in Yemen has a long history dating back to the period prior to the foreign occupation. Yemeni girls have reached advanced positions at the Arab and regional levels in different Olympic games. After a suspension of women's sports which lasted for a few years, women's sport activities recovered once again to be practiced by large numbers of Yemeni ladies all around the country. The most important games currently practiced by ladies are chess, table tennis, volleyball, handball, basketball, judo, and gymnastics.

Q: What about the sporting event to be hosted by Yemen in May 2005, do you expect that there will be some obstacles facing the organizing committee during the event?

A: Yemen represented by the YOC is making the necessary arrangements to host the Third Asian Conference on Woman and Sports. The event will be organized by the YOC in cooperation with the Asian Group Work and supported by the Cabinet and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. We hope not to face any obstacles and we do not expect so as we have received so much cooperation and encouragement via which the decision was made to host the conference.

Q: How has Yemen's preparation for the event been and how would you describe Yemen's interest in women's sports?

A: Hosting the Third Asian Conference on Woman and Sports reflects Yemen's interest in women's sports and its readiness to spread several sport activities among ladies.

Supporting such an event is important and is in compliance with the recommendations of UN General Association, which called for the spreading of development and peace through sports.

The association called on the member countries to support sport activities either through private or public sector initiatives. The UN made a significant contribution to the concept through its universal declaration for sports and physical education.

Concerning Yemen's interest in women sport, there are some procedures taken by the government to support women's sport activities. These include an agreement that was reached between the UN General Association and the YOC to increase by 20 per cent the number of women participating in different sport activities in compliance with recommendations of the International Olympic Committee. While amending the by-laws related to the sport federations, the concerned bodies approved the presence of at least one woman in every federation to be responsible for women sport activities. The Cabinet has also given approval to YR2 million of funding to support women's sports and establish the necessary infrastructure including clubs, big halls and other annexes.

The strategies adopted by the government during the period 2000-2004 reflect Yemen's strong interest in women sports

Q: Where is the event scheduled to take place?

A: The conference is scheduled to take place at Sheraton Hotel on May 11-12, 2005.

Q: You have just mentioned that there are many strategies associating with women sport activities and have been adopted by the Yemeni Government during 2000-2004, what are they?

A: There have been several strategies adopted by the government from 2000 to 2004:

The first Strategy concerns women sports and The Ministry of Youth and Sports, and stipulates that attention should be drawn towards the creation of women's representation in the structure of sport federations. So far, women's representation has been created in chess, table tennis, volleyball, judo and karate federations.

Allotments of funds for activities and internal and external participation of a fixed annual fund totaling YR 5 million has been approved.

Another strategy involves women's sports and the Ministry of Education.

A joint program has been executed between two ministries providing schools with the necessary sport equipment for volleyball, chess, handball, basketball, and table tennis. Within this strategy, regular courses are organized to qualify women instructors in the subject of physical education at schools.

Q: Do you have any information about the number of countries due to participate in the conference, what are these countries?

A: We extended invitations to all the Asian countries, 15 of which have already accepted the invitations and now we are waiting for the remainder.

Q: What is the strategy adopted by Yemen with respect to the preparation of participants? Are the women participants selected from places all around the republic or from certain governorates, and what are the Yemeni governorates interested more in women sports?

A: As many as 20 male and female participants from Youth and Sports, Education and Higher Studies Ministries are due to represent Yemen in the conference along with the UN organizations and sport committees in the Yemeni governorates. Besides many civil society organizations as well as the skilled female players who have previous achievements will partake in the conference.

Q: Are there any non-governmental organizations participating the Ministry of Youths and Sports in supporting and organizing the event?

A: There are a number of non-governmental organizations who promised to participate the Cabinet and the Ministry of Youth and Sports in supporting and organizing the event.

Q: How do you see the future of women sports in the country?

A: Women's sport should be constantly supported and adopted by the state and priority should be given to the infrastructure of women sports in the future as well as supporting sports among ladies in schools. Ladies have to be motivated to join different colleges of physical education in order to make up a well-qualified school.

Q: Do you have any final comments about the event?

A: I would warmly thank The Yemen Times for being highly interested in women sports in specific and women-related issues in general. I would also thank the Prime Minister and the Minister of Youth and Sports for their support.

I urge those who promised to contribute to the conference and support us not to go back on what they said.