YAF’s President Fuad Al-Qumaim: “We have many ambitions, but we need support!” [Archives:1999/12/Sports]

March 22 1999

The Yemeni Athletics Federation (YAF) is one of the most active sports unions in Yemen. The YAF regularly organizes local championship games, which do not depend on the insignificant financial support provided by the Ministry of Sports. Despite the fact that the Ministry is not giving enough support to the YAF, it was able to accomplish many spectacular achievements for the national team on the Arab and international stages. The latest such achievement was the gold medal obtained by the Yemeni champion Abdulrahman Abdulaziz in the Arab youth championship in Damascus Syria during 26-29 of June 98.
Recently, the YAF has not been organizing many local sports activities, in spite of the fact that the YAF’s last organized local sport event was very successful on many fronts. Their last event was the Half Marathon of Sanaa, which had several hundred participants from Yemen and the Arab world.
To examine the ambitions and hopes of the YAF in depth, Yemen Times interviewed the YAF’s president, Mr. Fuad Al-Qumain.
Q: Although you have not had any local activities for some time now, you are still participating in the 13th Asian Olympic Games. Unforunately, the results were not encouraging. Why?
A: To understand the unsuccessful results, we should first look at the inadequate preparation of our athletes. Most athletes participating in the games have been preparing for the event for moths and even years, our athletes had only one week to prepare for the games in the humble internal training camp we reserved. What could you expect from our athletes who were competing against world champions from China, Japan, Korea, and even Qatar. To say the least, we lack a number of factors for success. We also lack the ability to plan for future events. Our participation was arranged at random and on short notice, and all we pay for is traveling expenses.
One year when we were prepared, we placed 7th in the world rankings and first in the Asian rankings. That was quite an accomplishment, and it wasn’t luck that made us do so well. We accomplished that by preparing well and using our talents and abilities throughout the games. Long before an event begins, every trainer used to provide YAF a schedule for the training camp and indicate all the possible training requirements for optimal preparation. After providing all the preparation and requirements for our athletes, the team usually achieves remarkable success in most competitions.
But now that the Ministry of Youth and Sports is in charge of such preparations, it sends us people who are supposed to evaluate and see the needs of our teams, but they don’t know anything about sports.
Q: Do you see any athletic champions who you think have a chance for future success?
A: There are many such athletes whom I think can do well if given the chance. The first name that comes to mind is definitely athlete Abdulrahman Abdulaziz, who has a love of sports in his blood. He is the person who, even though he had to train himself, was able to achieve second place among 94 participators representing 27 Asian countries in the Asian Olympic Games held in Taiwan last year, and first place in last year’s Young Arab Championship Games.
This in fact confirms that we do have young Yemenis who are capable of becoming champions not only regionally, but also on an international level. With a bit of support and encouragement, we can create champions out of ordinary talented athletes living among us.
We have the resources and facilities, but we lack another important requirement, willpower. If our politicians have the drive to promote sports and improve sport conditions in the country, we can do it. If the ministry provides the necessary conditions and facilities, we can select well qualified and organized staff members and administrators. This should lead the way to better sports conditions and higher achievements.
Q: Do you think that local Yemeni athletic trainers are well qualified to train the national athletic team?
A: I am proud to say that we have a large number of qualified trainers who have graduated from the best international institutions in Europe. Among them are Mustafa Saeed Nasser, Mohamed Bartoosh, Badr Muhsin, Ismail Rawia, who are all first class Yemeni trainers. But recently, we have tried to give an opportunity to younger trainers whom we think have a bright future in the field of athletic training.
Q: Why were YAF’s secretary and technical manager changed?
A: Some changes were made at the posts of general secretary and technical manager because they did not want to cooperate with others in formulating the arrangements of the planned athletic championships. It is in our best interest to have the staff working together and sharing ideas and suggestions, instead of excluding other staff members in making important decisions. The best work is teamwork.
Q: How were you able to get the financial resources to launch all of the local championships you organized, in spite of the fact that the Ministry of Sports and Youth contributes very little?
A: The total approved budget the Ministry of Sports cannot even cover the expenses of a single championship for the local teams. If not for the commercial companies and deals that we make to get financial support through sponsorships and advertisement, we could have done nothing. A good example of this is the latest half marathon held in Sanaa for the president’s trophy. The whole event, which five Arab countries participated in, was totally sponsored by Yemenia Airlines. It is well known that organizing such sports events and preparing our national teams for international events requires a significant amount of money, much more than we get from the government. After our achievements at the Asian games, the International Athletic Federation (IAF) decided to contribute US $7000 annually to our federation for the general management of YAF.
Q: How strong is the relationship between your federation and the Ministry of Sports?
A: We appreciate the attempts of Dr. Abdulwahhab Raweh, the Minister of Sports to arrange plans and programs to help our federation’s activities. However, we have noticed the wide gap between what is happening and what is supposed to happen. Whenever we try to get our rights from the ministry we face an awkward routine at the ministry’s managerial offices. Routine transactions that come to a dead end are the main reason behind not implementing the ministry-funded programs. As an example, the Sports Activity Administration at the ministry always asks us to provide reports of athletic sports events held in governorates in a certain program before even providing the financial support that is vital for that very program to be begin. We also face difficulties in some distant governorates, which do not even have the equipment to send the reports the ministry wants. To avoid all of this, the ministry should hand over the budget of every sports federation at the start of the sports season. At the end of the season, every federation should be responsible to send a report to the ministry.
Q: Do you have a closing statement?
A: We have many ambitions for the future, but they cannot be carried out unless we get more support. I am confident that we can build a strong national athletics team if we can bring about a major change in the way we deal with sports and create better environments to improve athletics and give it more attention. The best areas for athletes to train and develop their abilities are high altitude areas like Sanaa City. The requirements are more care and attention, and of course financial support so that we can do our best in raising our level of performance and bring a bright image to athletic sports in Yemen. Our dream is to raise the Yemeni flag high in Arab and International sports events.