Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1365, (19 - 25 October 2017)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1365, (19 - 25 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Fully booked

The Special Olympics of MENA and Egypt are currently beehives of activity, reports Abeer Anwar


Saadeddin in the World Youth Summit for Peace promo

As part of a packed calendar, preparations are underway for the ninth Special Olympics MENA Games in Abu Dhabi in March next year and the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games also taking place in Abu Dhabi.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to 5.7 million athletes.

Abdel-Moneim Saadeddin, a Special Olympics athlete who represented Egypt in a number of sports events regionally and internationally in athletics, was also chosen to participate in the World Youth Summit for Peace to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh from 4-10 November. Saadeddin had joined the campaign that publicised the summit. This comes as part of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s avowed care for mentally disabled athletes. Al-Sisi was the only Egyptian president to attend a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Games, the eight edition held in Cairo in 2015. He has advocated the inclusion of mentally disabled athletes in society.

At the same time, Special Olympics Egypt held its first training course for women football coaches, in cooperation with the English Premiership and the British Council in Cairo. Fifty female coaches are being trained as the nucleus of women’s football activities and competitions that will be included in the Special Olympics MENA activities. Cairo will host the first regional women’s soccer games by the end of the year.

“Women’s soccer training centres will be set up in all of Egypt’s governorates to train female Special Olympics athletes who are interested in soccer,” explained Ikrami Al-Gamal, sports and training manager at Special Olympics Egypt.

From left: Rashad, Mohieddin and Nasser

Special Olympics MENA also held the first technical delegate training course to be held in the region in four sports: table tennis, swimming, bocci and basketball with the participation of 12 countries — Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Palestine, Libya, Iraq and Oman. The three-day training course offered a number of sessions given by physical fitness professors including Atef Rashad who helped teach the participating coaches on the different ways of training mentally disabled athletes, primary injuries and first aid procedures, as well as avoiding faulty training sessions for muscle pulls.

Wael Al-Rifai talked to the coaches about the different abilities of Special Olympics athletes and how they can be used to the maximum in addition to the psychology of SO players and how best to deal with them during competition or when under stress.

Abdel-Aziz Al-Molla highlighted the importance of nutrition and the diets that Special Olympics athletes should follow so as not to become obese. Emad Mohieddin, MENA sports and training manager, highlighted the steps that Special Olympics should take before a competition and Mohamed Nassar, MENA sports and competitions manager, shed light on the various sports and tournaments that the Special Olympics movement provides.

During the opening ceremony, Ayman Abdel-Wahab, MENA managing director, explained what differentiates Special Olympics from other movements. “It pays attention to the athletes from all aspects — health, family, nutrition, psychology and the community he or she is living in. That is why it is one of the best movements in the world.

“In the ninth MENA Games, the Special Olympics movement will celebrate its silver jubilee. It has attracted five million athletes in its 50 years of existence and is aiming to double the number by the end of the next 50 years,” Abdel-Wahab said.

Special Olympics MENA also held a healthy community forum in Cairo with the participation of Special Olympics Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. It included 80 families who attended a number of sessions given by Christine Hugos, manager of the Healthy Athletes Programme in the Special Olympics headquarters, dealing with the health, fitness and nutrition of SO athletes.

“Our athletes have joined in training with the Sofit International Programme which works on the players’ fitness and which has been included as part of the Egyptian Healthy Athlete Programme to allow them to practise sports in the right and healthy way,” Ahmed Sarhan, Special Olympics Egypt Healthy Athlete manager, said.

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