Monday,28 May, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1345, (18 - 24 May 2017)
Monday,28 May, 2018
Issue 1345, (18 - 24 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Saddle up

Al-Ahram Weekly joined the president of the International Equestrian Federation on his three-day visit to Egypt

De Vos at the Olympic Museum

It was the first time the top official of the International Equestrian Federation (IEF) visits Egypt since the creation of the sport and the federation in 1921, reports Inas Mazhar. Ingmar De Vos was accompanied by his NF Liaison Officer Lucinda Arsenio. The NF liaison office is the primary point of contact for national federations.

“It was a very tight schedule in three days but I am really happy to be in Cairo and I am sure it is only the beginning,” De Vos, 53, from Belgium, told Al-Ahram Weekly. “I will be back again to Egypt. The visit was fruitful. I was so much impressed with everything here whether the facilities of our sport and the country itself, the people, historic landmarks and the food as well,” said De Vos, who had arrived in Cairo after visits to Algeria and Tunisia. Tel Aviv and Ramallah are his next stops after Cairo.

The IEF president started his visit by enjoying dinner at Cairo Tower. He enjoyed Egyptian food and the view of Cairo at night from the great tower which was built in the sixties. The official visit started the following day with De Vos meeting Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz. Abdel-Aziz was joined by Hisham Hatab, president of the Egyptian Equestrian Federation (EEF) and the Egyptian National Olympic Committee (ENOC), Sayed Moawad, EEF director and board member and famed rider Khaled Assem.

During the one-hour meeting, De Vos held talks with the Egyptian minister on equestrianism in Egypt, its present and future and accordingly raised several issues. De Vos congratulated the minister at the beginning of their meeting on Egypt’s new sports law, calling it a huge step forward for Egyptian sports and describing it as “brave” action. “In many countries, there are laws that have been there for ages and few who dare to make the change. I’m glad Egypt is one of them. This new law will definitely lead to the development of Egyptian sports,” he said.

De Vos with Abdel-Aziz

Abdel-Aziz then opened the discussion by welcoming De Vos in Egypt and asking him how and what the IEF suggests or asks from the Egyptian government to develop horseback riding in Egypt and improve its international status. The IEF head pointed out several issues that need to be tackled by the Egyptian government including facilitating the import and export of horses from and to Egypt, reducing the veterinary quarantine period, and holding the two World Cup qualifier competitions in September 2017 with support from the ministry and the IEF. De Vos also asked the minister to support the establishment of the African Confederation of Equestrian (ACES) headquarters in Egypt and holding the first African championship in Egypt with support from the ministry and the IEF. He pointed to the important role he expects from Egypt to lead Africa to develop the sport and increase the number of members from the current 14.

The minister promised the IEF president to show all support to the EEF and work on removing obstacles especially regarding horses. He also asked De Vos to provide the EEF with the technical support needed to promote the sport in Egypt as well as send technical instructors to Egypt to educate coaches and riders to develop their skills.

De Vos then paid a visit to the National Olympic Committee headquarters where he toured Egypt’s Olympic Museum which includes treasures that go back to the early Olympic movement. He was genuinely surprised by the museum, considered the best in the world after the IOC Olympic Museum of Lausanne, Switzerland. De Vos then visited EEF headquarters based in the Cairo Stadium zone where he toured its offices and greeted staff members. “I am glad to be here among the people who run the sport in Egypt and see them working in their offices as we do back there at the IEF in Lausanne. It’s been such a pleasure. We are all colleagues working for the sake of our sport,” he told the staff, whom he invited to a round table discussion to listen to whatever they had to say about their working relationship with the IEF and what kind of assistance they needed from the IEF to facilitate work between the two bodies.

Attending the meeting was Arsenio. “She is here with me because she is the one running the NF liaison office and ensures that dialogue with NFs occurs as to their needs and requirements and identifies the scope and nature of challenges faced by NFs in order to best determine, on a bespoke basis, the approach that can be taken and the resources that can be allocated to any given project within the various IEF departments. And I want to tell you she runs this office with a firm and strict policy and ensures that all her staff are doing their jobs perfectly towards the world’s NFs. So we are here to listen to any complaints so we can work on solving it together.”

De Vos did listen attentively as Arsenio took notes and promised to finalise all pending issues.

Following the meeting at the EEF, De Vos visited the equestrian arena at Cairo Stadium and was dazzled with the world-class facility, saying it should host annual international and World Cup events. The second day concluded with a visit to the Egyptian Museum which De Vos described as an amazing historic place and said he needed to return to spend days delving into Egyptian history, “not just a couple of hours”. Had not the museum been closing, De Vos probably wouldn’t have left.

De Vos’ visit concluded with a visit to another show jumping arena at the Pegasus Club in 6 October. Again, he said he was glad to see that Egypt had such great facilities and hoped that it could hold more international events “which would definitely make it a great hub for Africa and the world”. Visiting the Pyramids was the last stop for the Belgian in Egypt before concluding the visit with dinner on a Nile cruise.

De Vos was elected president of the IEF in December 2014 by an overwhelming majority in the first round of voting, earning 98 votes out of a possible 131. Secretary-general of the IEF in 2011, he was elected to take charge of the world equestrian governing body at the IEF General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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