A week dedicated to building a sports community between Egypt and Tunisia, titled “Sports Week for Brotherhood”, which began on 24 September, has concluded.
Throughout the week, a Tunisian delegation comprised of players from three sports, table tennis, basketball, and fencing, visited Cairo and competed against their Egyptian counterparts in a series of friendly matches.
The games were held at the following clubs: the Shooting Club, the Maadi Sporting Club & Yacht, Al-Ahly, and El-Gaish. The delegation enjoyed their stay and took tours of famous historic landmarks, which included the Giza Pyramids, Egyptian Museum, Saladin Citadel, the Al-Hussein district, and a cruise down the Nile River.
A closing ceremony was held on 1 October at Cairo’s Olympic Centre. Those in attendance included the Tunisian ambassador to Egypt, Naguib Al-Manif, and the executive director of the National Sports Council, Mohamed El-Helw.
Daily News Egypt took the opportunity to meet with Al-Manif to learn more about the cooperation between both countries in the field of sports.
Under the umbrella of this event, how can sports allow nations to come closer together?
Throughout history, Egypt and Tunisia have always been on very good terms.
This sports week showed that the sports ministries in Egypt and Tunisia both equally care about the youth of their countries and wish for them to continue to work in harmony with one another.
Our children are the seeds of the future. There is no doubt that healthy competition through sports and athletics allows youth from both countries to develop pathways for cultural dialogue.
Do you believe that sports serves as a means to overcome extremism in our countries?
Athletic development is important for youth development and allows them to think in a flexible way. Involvement in sports can be an effective way for youth to distance themselves from extremism and violence. I believe that this is the role of official institutes in both countries, especially those in charge of youth and sports.
Can you tell us more about this sports week?
This sports week is part of the programme signed between the ministers of sports and youth affairs in Egypt and Tunisia to develop bilateral relations.
Both myself and my counterpart in Tunisia, Egyptian ambassador to Tunisia Ayman Gamal El Din Mousharafa, are working to allow the cooperation between both countries to become more dynamic. We want to promote this in all fields, including arts and sports.
Currently there are many planned and ongoing events and activities in Cairo and Tunisia where we exchange delegations that promote youth and sports.
What are the future plans for this endeavour?
The Egyptian and Tunisian Paralympics champions have inspired their countries not just with their amazing performance during the 2016 Rio Summer Paralympic Games but also with their stories of strength and determination. I believe that they will become our role models and ambassadors in such international events.
In this regard, why not include our Paralympics champions in the upcoming events and activities that both countries share?
After their success, we believe that there is a need for recognition of our champions with special needs. We will focus more on them, and work on including them in the exchange of delegations between both countries.
Are there any obstacles for players with special needs to travel abroad?
We are aware that they will need time for preparation and the use of various machines and aids, which we take into consideration.
However, if that does not deter them then it does not deter us from working with them.
Egyptian and Tunisian champions with special needs showed their talents, and proved their strength not only at the last Paralympics Games, but also at the 2012 London games. I am sure that they will continue their amazing performance at the 2020 Tokyo’s Summer Paralympics Games.
In addition, from a human point of view, players with special needs should be addressed and treated equally as we do with other able-bodied players. At the end of the day, they have the same rights.
In general, do you think that Egypt and Tunisia are financially able to support and develop these exchanges?
If you put your mind towards achieving something, you will do so, regardless of the surrounding circumstances.
We have to keep in mind that we do this for our youth and they are an investment that will reward us in the future.
By Maydaa El-Nadar
© 2019 Daily News Egypt.