Why Do Yemeni Sport Champions Abandon Training Early? Sports People: There is not enough attention Olympic Committee: Lack of awareness of the importance of sport [Archives:1998/05/Sports]

February 2 1998

The widespread phenomenon of Yemeni sportsmen and women who prematurely abandon training, despite them being able to continue, is one of the main reasons for the declining level of sports in Yemen. Also, there is no serious commitment on part of the various sports associations to train and qualify the existing referring and instructor cadres. A Yemeni sports person would begin with great enthusiasm, goes on for some time, but is later faced with many obstacles which dampen that early vigor. So he or she would surrender to the pressures and decline in status.
Yemen Times has conducted a survey to get to know the reasons behind this phenomenon and ascertain the opinions of sports people and sports officials, whether at the various sports clubs, the Olympic Committee, or the Ministry of Sport and Youth. We hope to reveal many of the deteriorating circumstances of our sportsmen and women.
Abdullah Ahmed Al-Thorya, a footballer, said: “There are many factors that cause sports people to prematurely abandon their training. Most important of these is that the state does not give sport its due care and attention. Many officials consider sport to be a secondary aspect of life, just another type of recreation. Sports in many countries have an important social role, reflecting the civilization and advancement of these societies. Most countries in world provide sport with great attention and all the necessary facilities.”
Adel Mohammed Al-Ladani, a volleyball player, said: “The root of the problem is that many of Yemen’s sports people are amateurs. So a sports person, in addition to his or her essential training, has to get an ordinary job to earn a living. This represents an obstacle in improving his or her sports level.
“I hope that assistance will be provided by the state as well as the private sector which must realize that sponsoring sports activities is a good form of advertising. If a private company sponsors a particular sports club and provides it with the necessary facilities, then more sports people will be able to continue with unflagging enthusiasm.”
Ali Al-Harazi, a football coach, said: “Sport in the 1970s and 1980s was better than it is now. A player and his coach used to greatly cooperate during training. Sport activities were voluntary then, as far as organizing was concerned. All sports people used to gather with a true desire to train and present a good level of performance, despite the lack of resources. The current economic difficulties facing Yemen have affected many aspects of the Yemeni society, including sports. However, there are now slow but encouraging steps taken by the Ministry of Youth and Sport, in cooperation with the Olympic Committee, to improve the conditions of sport in Yemen. Several training courses are being conducted to qualify sports coaches and prepare sports champions.”
Ahmed Jasser, a sports teacher at the High Institute of Sport Education, said: “Sports people have suffered for a very long time from bad circumstances. Sports associations have not given them the proper care and attention. The government does not fully realize the importance of sport, and has not provided a good budget to support the various sport activities. “There are now positive steps taken by the High Institute of Sport Education to scientifically qualify sportsmen and women as well as referees and coaches. Sport stadiums are being restored and small closed sports halls are being opened as a beginning towards erecting larger ones. “I think sports conditions in Yemen will greatly improve during the next few years. This will reduce the number of sports people who abandon training early on in their careers. The government and society in general will become more aware of the importance of sport.”
Ahmed Al-Dhamiri, a sports journalist at “26 September” weekly, said: “Sport is learning and education. It needs a lot of resources and a good administration to improve and progress. The Yemeni sports people, like their counterparts in other countries of the world, need a lot of care and attention. Unfortunately, the sports administration in Yemen is quite weak and many of the people who manage sport associations are not properly qualified.
“Also, there are no long-term training programs to distinguish potential sports champions, improve their level, and provide them with the necessary resources and facilities. That is why sport in Yemen is conducted in a haphazard way. Sport competitions begin and end without any evaluation of the level of the participants by the sport association concerned. “Lack of resources, closed halls, and stadiums all lead to many sports people abandoning their sport activities so as to be able to make a living elsewhere. They leave behind years of hard work and field experience. “The solution must first come through the attention provided by the state. The Ministry of Youth and Sport should monitor the activities of sport associations through specialized technical officials who conduct field visits to sports clubs and training centers. A lot of facts about the conditions of sports in Yemen will be uncovered this way, otherwise these facts will remain unknown by the sports officials who remain sitting at their desks in the Ministry of Sport.”
Abdullah Al-Sallal, an international football referee, said: “Let’s talk frankly. The state does not provide any attention to youth and sport. In addition to the lack of sports facilities, sports people often suffer from economic hardships as well as not having proper jobs to earn their living. “Despite the big propaganda in newspapers about sports activities and competitions, we find that the income of sports people is quite limited. At the end most of these young sportsmen and women reach the conviction that they have no other alternative but to abandon sport. When you ask them ‘why?,’ they give the familiar reply: ‘Sport doesn’t provide bread!’
Hussein Al-Awadhi, Secretary-General of the Yemen Olympic Committee, said: “Yemeni players usually start training at an early age. They start with much enthusiasm and ambitions. Probably at a young age, a sports person does not have many financial commitments. But when he reaches the age of 20, say, he is often faced by the bitter reality – he must find an ordinary job to earn a living for himself and his family. The living circumstances become a burden. “The youth and sport sector receive very modest amounts of money, which are not enough for the sport bodies to cover their commitments. This is a big problem facing sports clubs and associations. “The other problem that faces Yemeni sports people is that the social environment in general does not fully comprehend that sport is part of health protection and that it is useful for youths so that they become active members of society. This is not the fault of the parents, but of the heavy burden we inherited from the past which considered sport a luxury. In fact, at one point in time, sports clubs were accused of being places for wasting time! Sports clubs at that time did not expand their sport, cultural and artistic activities. In addition, there are no suitable sports halls and stadiums which protect players from possible injuries. That is why Yemeni players are considered the most vulnerable to injuries. All these factors have frustrated the Yemeni sports people.
“So it is quite rare to find players continuing beyond the age of 25, which makes many people pessimistic. But we must all be optimistic. Some clubs have already started looking for alternative revenues, and to provide their players with good incentives for training and winning. The Ministry of Youth and Sport, through the Youth Support Fund, is increasing the financial support for sports clubs and associations.
“The Olympic Committee presents large monetary prizes to sport champions who win in Arab and international competitions. Good examples on that are wrestling champ, Al-Azzani; the Taeqwondo champ, Wadhah; the chess champ, Zindan, and several others. “Despite all that, we still find that a player’s sport age is closely connected to the society’s awareness of the importance of regularly practicing sport. Yemen is full with talents that will prosper if provided with opportunities and ample resources for training. This is what happened with international boxing champion Naseem Hameed and squash champion Wa’ad Hamood.”