UAE volleyball clubs are intensifying their preparations for their participation in the fourth edition of the Arab Women Sport Tournament (AWST 2018), which takes place in Sharjah February 2-12, 2018. With the tagline ‘The World Is Your Court… Together Victorious,’ the latest instalment of the biennial competition is being held under the auspices of the Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Muhammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) and Chairperson of the Sharjah Women Sports Foundation (SWSF). Al Wasl Club’s volleyball team, the champions of AWST 2016 and bronze medal winners at AWST 2014, revealed that it is readying itself to put up a strong defence of its title through the local competitions it takes part in – contests that bring together Arab teams. Yousriya Shojaie, trainer and manger of the team’s technical personnel, said that Al Wasl’s athletes are fully prepared for the forthcoming tournament, pointing out that the team is in a permanent state of training given its participation in the UAE volleyball league.“AWST is one of the key sporting events in the Arab world in view of the large number of Arab clubs that take part in it; clubs such as Al Muharraq from Bahrain, Al Fatat from Kuwait, Sohar from Oman and Sharjah Sports Club, who are our main rivals.
In fact, all the teams have their strong points and will make it hard for us to defend our title,” she said.For her part, Ibtisam Obaid, Administrative Officer of Al Wasl Sports Club’s volleyball team, described the participating sides as strong and professional, comprising seasoned players from different nationalities. She pointed out that this will have a positive impact, both on the level of competition and on the development of local players.“Al Wasl Sports Club’s volleyball team will feature a host of local and international professional players, including Nadia Ali, Muna Haidar, Asma Ahmad, Wedad Jassim, Kulaitham Rahma, Marwa Hadeed, Hassa Ismail, Mariam Najeeb, Alaa Ahmad, Hamda Obaid, Ambro Roberson from the USA and Violet Makoto from Kenya. They are all looking forward to defending the title,” said Obaid.“Since its inception, AWST 2018 has established an advanced level of sponsorship and support to all women who wish to be professional athletes and this has contributed to elevating and developing women in the sporting arena. Each edition of the tournament sees an increase in number of teams, clubs and countries taking part, which reflects its status as a premier sporting event and one that ensures a healthy future for Arab female athletics,” she added.Mai Al Ameri, Administrative Officer of Sharjah Sports Club’s volleyball team, stressed that her team is working towards being at the top of its game for AWST 2018. She highlighted that the tournament is a key sporting event that will further elevate Arab women in sports, nurture their expertise, hone their skills and develop their capabilities.
“AWST is a major platform for female Arab athletes and a valuable addition to the local women’s sports sector. The tournament affords players the opportunity to compete and communicate with their peers from other prestigious clubs - this contributes significantly to developing their talents and capabilities,” said Al Ameri.“The gracious patronage of Sheikha Jawaher bint Muhammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the SCFA, has a positive impact on the realities of women sports at all levels. Her Highness plays a fundamental role in helping achieve the noble objectives of supporting Arab women sports and empowering Arab female athletes to further their success,” she added.Al Ameri revealed that Sharjah Sports Club is training twice a day under the supervision of the UAE National Volleyball Team Coach Issam Abdel Muti and his deputy Sizara and is starting an internal camp on Sunday, January 28, which aims to finalise the team’s preparations for the tournament. She pointed out that the team features local female athletes and international players who were contracted recently to further enhance the club’s quest for excellence in the fourth edition of the event.
“Among the outstanding players in the Sharjah Sports Club’s volleyball team are Alia Nasser, Muna Abbas, Samiha Hassan, Afraa Said, Fadwa Wassim, Hana Abdullah, Mashael Salem, as well as a Cuban athlete who will be a big surprise once her name is unveiled. We have scheduled a number of friendly matches with local and international volleyball teams, including Espria Club from Italy, which comprises expert seasoned players. These matches will advance the skills and experiences of our own players. We are also set to play friendly matches with community teams in the UAE volleyball league, most notably the Filipino Community team, which will further our readiness to compete,” Al Ameri added.Launched in 2012 as an initiative from Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Muhammad Al Qasimi, AWST is held in Sharjah once every two years. In April 2017, AWST’s Higher Organising Committee announced that SWSF had been endorsed by the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees as the official organisers of the fourth edition of the tournament. The committee also announced that it received confirmation from 15 countries that will sign for the event, including a number that will participate in its entire array of nine disciplines for the first time.