AWST 2020 confirms largest participation in tournament’s history

  • Thursday 16, January 2020 06:15 PM
Sharjah 24: The Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST), organised by Sharjah Women’s Sports (SWS), has broken a personal record. The tournament’s Supreme Organising Committee (SOC) has announced the largest participation in its eight-year history with a record number of 74 clubs from 16 Arab countries, which will be competing in the fifth edition.
Set to run from February 2 – 12 in Sharjah, AWST 2020 will be held under the patronage of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of SWS.

The announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday at the iconic Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 Monument, in the presence of Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Head of the SOC of AWST; Issa Hilal Al Hizami, Secretary-General of the Sharjah Sports Council; Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Head of the SOC of AWST, Head of the Executive Committee and Director General of SWS; Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO, Advisor and General Manager of Etisalat – Northern Emirates; and Rashid Al Obaid, Director of Sharjah Sports Channel.

During the event, SOC revealed that the UAE topped the list with 14 participating clubs, followed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with 12 clubs, which is the highest number of clubs from KSA that has signed up to compete in any edition of AWST. The Committee also confirmed that nine clubs will be representing Bahrain, while Jordan, Kuwait, and Algeria would participate in the sporting event with six clubs each.

The rest of the participating countries include Egypt with 4 clubs; Libya, Sudan, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia, and Palestine with two clubs each; and Oman, Iraq, and Morocco with one each.

Fierce competition
The committee announced that UAE and Bahrain will compete in all nine sports: shooting, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, athletics, show jumping, fencing, archery and karate. Saudi Arabia will compete in all sports except shooting.

Kuwait is gearing up to take part in the shooting, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, archery and karate competitions, while Egyptian clubs will compete in shooting, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, archery and karate.

Jordanian sportswomen will be aiming for top spots in basketball, volleyball, table tennis, athletics, show jumping, and karate. Algerian athletes will concentrate on volleyball, table tennis, archery, karate, shooting and basketball, while Libya will participate in table tennis, athletics, and karate.

Sudanese athletes will compete in athletics, show jumping, and archery, while Syrian sportswomen will take part in volleyball and karate. The Tunisian teams will compete in volleyball and basketball, while Palestinian sportswomen will test their might in athletics and karate. Shooting will be the only sport Omani athletes will participate in, while Qatari sportswomen will compete in fencing and shooting. Iraq and Morocco too will participate in only one sport each, archery and table tennis, respectively.

Karate, most popular sport
The SOC revealed that 12 clubs are gearing up to compete in karate – the highest-ever participation witnessed by this category since the inaugural edition of AWST. Ten clubs will compete in volleyball, while nine will battle it out in athletics. Basketball will have eight teams aiming for gold, while seven clubs each will be competing in shooting, fencing and archery. Four clubs will be represented in show jumping.

Guests
The committee announced the attendance of several high-ranking sports officials, most notably, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Sports Authority; His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein, President of the Jordan Olympic Committee, member of the International Olympic Committee; HE Dr Ashraf Sobhi, Minister of Youth and Sports in Egypt, and Gunilla Lindberg, Member of the International Olympic Committee, Secretary-General of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

Competitions
The SOC announced that the basketball, volleyball, archery and karate competitions will kick-off on Monday, February 3; followed by table tennis on Tuesday; shooting and show jumping on Wednesday; athletics on Saturday; and fencing on Sunday.

Draw dates
The draw dates for selecting the teams for the various competitions will be as follows: February 1 for basketball, volleyball and archery; February 2 for karate and show jumping; February 3 for shooting and table tennis; February 7 for athletics; and February 8 for fencing.
New additions
The SOC also announced the inclusion of two new trophies: ‘Best Cheerleader Cup’ and ‘Best Audience Cup’, to complement the Supremacy Cup, Excellence Cup and the Fair Play Cup. AWST will also honour the best committee operating under the executive committee of the tournament, as well as the best local sports union under the criteria of cooperation and involvement and the best Arab sports union.

Women’s sports in Arab media
The committee also announced that it would convene a session titled ‘Women’s sports in Arab media’ targeting Arab sports media professionals and influencers. The session will be held on the sidelines of AWST and aim at highlighting opportunities and challenges in women’s sports, and present suggestions to the media industry and decision makers to augment the media’s pivotal role in advancing women’s sports.

Facilities
The SOC announced that 13 facilities were in place for AWST 2020, including six state-of-the-art sports venues across Sharjah for the competitions and seven sports halls that would be utilised for team training.

The main sports hall and shooting hall at SWS will host team training sessions as well as the basketball, volleyball and shooting competitions (rifle and pistol 10m). Basketball training and competitions will take place at the Semnan branch of the Sharjah Sports Club, while its Al Hazzanah branch will host the karate, table tennis and fencing competitions.

The training and competitions in pistol shooting 25m will be held at Al Dhaid Sports Club, while Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped will be the venue for the athletics and archery training competitions. The Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club will host the training and competitions for equestrian and show jumping.

The basketball and volleyball training as well as competitions will take place at the Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, Wasit Youth Centre, University of Sharjah and the American University of Sharjah. The fencing training will be hosted at the Sharjah Children (Al Jazat) and Sharjah Youth Centre, while karate training will be held at the Sharjah Self-Defense Sports Club.

In a keynote speech, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Qasimi stressed that Sharjah’s commitment to organising this biennial tournament reiterates its firm belief that sports is more than a past time or a hobby; it is a social and human right. He noted that the state of sports in a country was an indicator of its advancement.

He said: “We consider AWST as our message to the rest of the Arab societies, a bridge for collaboration, and a platform for Arab sportswomen. Since the beginning, Sharjah has worked tirelessly to make sports accessible to everyone. The emirate founded many institutions, including the Sharjah Sports Council, to achieve that goal. We can proudly say that we are on the crest of achieving this monumental development goal.”
Nada Askar Al Naqbi said AWST had developed into a sports movement that serves Arab women, advances their capabilities and nurtures their talents.

She concluded: “AWST is a message to continue supporting women and empowering them with life skills. The advancement of women’s sports will accelerate progress in various aspects of life. We consider every victory in a game or competition during AWST a victory for the Arab world and its rich history, a win for humanity and humans, regardless of their gender.”

For his part, Issa Hilal Al Hizami, Secretary-General of the Sharjah Sports Council, said: “The depth of collaboration and involvement by both private and public entities has reflected positively on women’s sports in the Arab world, intensifying the sector’s influence in developing and growing the region’s local communities both intellectually and culturally. These necessary developments also reinforce investment into women’s sports as a collective responsibility; something AWST has been leading the way in. We are truly pleased to see the tournament’s expanding growth and popularity throughout our region.”

For his part, Rashid Al Obaid commented: “When His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, set the pillars of the emirate’s cultural project, he designated the media as an integral partner in supporting various sectors in the emirate, including the advancement of women's sports and the various efforts of SWS, because we believe that empowering women in sports is necessary to empower society.”