Saturday,23 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1380, (8 - 14 February 2018)
Saturday,23 February, 2019
Issue 1380, (8 - 14 February 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Kick-start deal

Taekwondo star Seif Eissa has signed with two top sponsors in alignment with a new sports law. Abeer Anwar attended the signing ceremony


Lotfi handing Al-Hoot Al-Ahram’s trophy

 Seif Eissa, Egypt’s taekwondo talent and one of the country’s seeded athletes in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has signed a sponsorship deal as part of a new sports law.

The contract is with GLC Paints and Al-Ahram Advertising Agency.

According to the new law, drafted under the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, federations must seek funds and sponsorship in addition to what they receive from the country because preparing Olympic athletes has become too expensive, especially after the floatation of the Egyptian pound in 2016, Khaled Abdel-Aziz, minster of youth and sports, said at a press conference held at Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel where the deal was penned.

Abdel-Aziz thanked private sector companies for sponsoring athletes including world squash champion Nour Al-Sherbini, world bronze swimming medalist Farida Osman and now Eissa. “I encourage all businessmen and big companies to invest in the sports sector as it is very rewarding for them and for the country,” Abdel-Aziz said.

Hesham Lotfi, Al-Ahram Advertising Agency general manager, said it was an honour for the Al-Ahram organisation to be part of such a sponsoring contract “as it has always played a fundamental role in sponsoring athletes and events and holding a number of competitions as part of its cultural and social role”.

“We are very happy that after succeeding in sponsoring the Egyptian national football team, it qualified to the 2018 Russia World Cup,” Mohamed Al-Hoot, GLC Paints vice president said. “We also sponsored the Ahly football team and now we are shifting to individual sports. We are looking forward to more work done in sports and we feel that each company has a responsibility towards the community and the country it is working in.”

Amr Selim, Egyptian taekwondo federation president, expressed his joy at the idea of having sponsorships in taekwondo. “I am sure that Seif Eissa will be up to the challenge and will collect a medal for Egypt in the next Olympics as he is not only a professional player but also well- behaved.”

Selim added that this month, Alexandria would be hosting the Egypt Open, one of the big events on the international taekwondo federation calendar. “Thirty-five countries will take part, seven of which are in the top 10 in taekwondo.”

Eissa, born 15 June 1998, started training for taekwondo at age six, though he never dreamt of being a star or an Olympic gold medalist. He told Al-Ahram Weekly in an exclusive interview: “I was greatly attracted to taekwondo and I kept practicing. I was a normal player with my mother’s backing, I was able to join the Egyptian youth national team in 2013. She kept taking me from one training site to another until 2014 when I won a bronze medal in the Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China. And I collected two silver medals at the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

“In order to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, I have to be one out the top six players in my weight category. Until now I am one of them but I need to participate in as many tournaments as I can to collect points and keep my ranking or improve it. That’s why sponsorship is very important to me as it will allow me to compete in big events and play against world champions.

“I also won a bronze at the 2016 Africa qualifications held in Agadir, Morocco. In 2017, I became world champion in my weight and I kept the title for three months. I also won two silver medals in the 2016 Grand Prix Final (Baku, Azerbaijan) and Grand Prix Series “2” of 2017 (Rabat, Morocco).

“I hope I can do it in Tokyo 2020 and I hope to add to what my colleagues did and win a gold medal this time,” Eissa said.
Eissa also won a gold medal in the 2014 Youth African Games (Gaborone, Botswana), silver in the 2015 African Games (Brazzaville, Congo), silver in the Africa Championship of 2016 (Port Said, Egypt) and gold in the 2017 African President Cup (Agadir, Morocco).  

Eissa fighting against Cissa in the 2017 Rabat World Championship

In the Open Championships, Eissa collected the following:

Bahrain Open 2014 (Bahrain) - Gold

Dutch Open 2015 (Eindhoven, Netherlands) - Gold

AFTU Open 2015 (Alexandria, Egypt) - Bronze

Spanish Open 2015 (Pontevedra, Spain) - Bronze

Luxor Open 2015 (Luxor, Egypt) - Bronze

Austria Open 2015 (Innsbruck, Austria) Bronze

Morocco Open 2015 (Agadir, Morocco) - Gold

Fujirah Open 2016 (Fujirah, UAE) - Gold

Qatar Open 2016 (Doha, Qatar) - Gold

Luxor Open 2016 (Luxor, Egypt) - Silver

Spanish Open 2016 (Alicante, Spain) - Silver

Luxor Open 2017 (Luxor, Egypt) - Gold

As a key figure in his life, Seif’s mother, Sherine Sharaf, played a big role in his success story, as she recounted to the Weekly. “My role started when he was young as we are a family of professors and so we have nothing to do with sports. I was strongly criticised from both sides, my family and his father’s family, for taking time out of his studying to practice sports as they believed in playing sports for the fun of it, not for professionalism, but I totally backed him. The best time was when he qualified for the Youth Olympics and won a medal. It was miraculous for me and the whole family of course. After that, they started to realise that I was right and that we have a champion in the family.”

Together with teammate Hedaya Malak, Eissa is one Egypt’s best hopes of an Olympic medal.

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