World-renowned speakers take to the stage at the third International Conference of Sports for Women 2015 on both days
Abu Dhabi, 5 May 2015: Under the patronage of HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, Chairperson of General Women's Union, Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the third edition of the International Conference of Sports for Women (ICSW) saw five panel discussions, five workshops, a photography exhibition, HealthX talks and a discussion of case studies all geared towards the theme Sports without Barriers.
The first day of the conference saw two panel discussions: the first panel discussed the development of community and culture in order to facilitate women to participate in sports; and the second panel spoke about sports as a tool that integrates those with special needs into society and how much sports has helped those that are differently abled to give direction and ambition to their lives with the support of their loved ones.
This was followed by Health XIII in which five speakers shared their stories of how they have come to rely on sports to improve the quality of their lives.
Notable amongst them was the story of Emirati figure skater and Olympic hopeful Zahra Lari who stressed the importance of the support she has received from her parents. She said that without their continued encouragement she would not have been able to break the barriers and take up figure skating in which she hopes to represent the UAE in the winter Olympics.
Day two of the conference saw two prominent sponsors of Sports – Etihad Airways and Tag Heuer talk about their reasons for supporting sports and encouraging women in sports.
Patrick Pierce from Etihad Airways said that it was their duty as the national airline to support the leadership of the UAE in this initiative, and sports for women gets supports from the highest annals of the UAE leadership.
On the other hand Kolia Neveux from Tag Heuer said that his company stands for challenging rules, defying convention and rejecting the unconventional. And women in sports do all of those three things. He said that Tag Heuer has a strong legitimacy in the sports world and therefore it was important for them to endorse women’s sports.
The topics of the last two panels were: Road to Olympics 2016 and Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers.
Dr Mai Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber from FBMA and the UAE Olympic Committee gave a presentation on the preparation of UAE’s female athletes as well as their recent achievements. While young Emirati female footballers present among the audience were thrilled to hear from their hero, Brazilian footballer Marta Viera De Silva.
Tansin Benn, in the last panel highlighted that Islam is an enabling religion that endorses participation of women in physical activity. If a woman wants to be a boxer or play rugby she should be able to. Likewise, if a man wants to be a figure skater or do ballet, he should be allowed to – the barriers of gender bias must be broken.
Marion Bartoli, Wimbledon Champion 2013 spoke about the barriers she overcame to achieve her dream of winning Wimbledon which she nurtured and worked towards since the age of 8. Amal Bu Shallakh through her presentation showed the success that the UAE female football team has achieved.
Emirati Weightlifter and Olympic hopeful Amna Al Haddad shared her inspiring story and stressed upon the importance of perseverance in order to achieve success. She expressed her gratitude to HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation and HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza, Chairwoman of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy.