The challenges facing women’s sports in Yemen [Archives:2008/1202/Reportage]
For the Yemen Times
Yemeni sports have had a challenging journey since the first time a Yemeni team participated in an international competition until today. The first international participation was when the Republic of Yemen football team participated in the Arab Football competitions in Cairo, Egypt in the early seventies.
Al-Tilal Football Club in Aden is considered one of the oldest in the region, and has participated in many regional and international competitions.
Table tennis was the highlight of Yemeni sports, when sportsman Ahmed Zaid won regional championships for the country.
Women's sports officially started in Yemen in the year of 2000 in Aden, when women were encouraged to participate in Chess and Judo. Yemeni athletes in Judo have won regional contests and they were from Aden.
Naseem Ahmad al-Milaiki, Head of the Woman and Sports Group at the Yemeni Olympic Committee commented that the movement of women's sports in Yemen has had a long history dating back to the period prior to the foreign occupation. Yemeni girls from the southern cities 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 restarted once again in 2005, and were 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.
According to Mansour al-Jaradi, a sports analyst, Yemeni sportswomen face various challenges in their pursuit of sports because of traditions, financial support, lack of female teams and lack of specialists in women's sports among many other issues.
Al-Jaradi pointed out that the complete failure to administer sports in the Ministry of Youth & Sports is a basic reason for why women's sports have not had their share of attention. \”Merging all women's associations into one association has failed to develop women's sports\””