Mon 18 Nov 2019

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Sports Bring Women Together In Afrin

Training for female basketball participants in Afrin stadium- August 23, 2019 (Enab Baladi)

Training for female basketball participants in Afrin stadium- August 23, 2019 (Enab Baladi)

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Sports such as volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, and taekwondo, drew attention of Syrian women, going to the Sport City in Afrin, where they join teams and practice sports amidst societal bets about the likelihood of the success of this womanly experience and the attempt at casting off chains to participate in national championships. 

Mallak, a graduate of Sports College, volleyball referee and aerobics instructor for women in Aleppo, joined many organizations in Idlib and Aleppo. Then, Mallak settled in Afrin and joined the Syrian Sports Club.

Mallak told Enab Baladi that when she arrived in Afrin, north of Aleppo, last year, women-designated activities were at a halt, where she played a role in regenerating women’s sporting activities and creating new sports events that did not exist among men and women, such as volleyball.

The Syrian Sports Club is offering free sports courses to attract girls of various ages. However, the club is facing financial difficulties, controlling the pace of these courses where volleyball and basketball training, most demanded, are held three days a week, amidst calls for starting Korean sports courses, including taekwondo, to promote the culture of self-defense.

Tolin Seydou, 40 years old professor of Human Development and a lecturer in neuro-programming, an athlete and karate player at the same time, shares Mallak’s view, stressing that “participation was very little at the start of the project, but all those who joined the training benefited after the hostilities in Afrin.”

“It was not merely about sport; it was a psychological support project for people who had experienced war and displacement,” Tolin added, noting that the program was initially based on fitness, in order to reach a certain level of physical well-being that entitles participants to join their desirable sports, accompanied by a diet program.

Jamal al-Ahmad, assistant director of the Syria Sports Club, an international freestyle wrestler and the Republic’s champion of 2007, summarized the club’s problems, including the lack or almost nonexistent support that the local council is supposed to provide. In addition, there are no vehicles to transport female participants to the training, the availability of which would have increased the number of female participants. He pointed out that football is favored over all other sports in terms of support.

“The club’s resources are so modest that the trainers are working with no pay, and the work time is not convenient for some trainers especially that Afrin is still unsafe. Blasts and the detonation of explosive devices in the last few months prevented people from being socially active,” he added.

The Turkey-backed “National Army” took over Afrin in March 2018, and Ankara is currently addressing the funding process of the area’s local entities.

In the summer of 2018, Turkey started restoring the sports city in Afrin, which includes three grass pitches, bleachers for 400 spectators, various sports halls and gyms, opening it earlier this year.

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