15 July, 2007

The Pathetic State Of Yemeni Sports

Yemen didn't qualify for the now on going finals of the Asian Cup; even if it had, most likely it would have been out of it early. Though Yemen has improved its soccer, it's still way behind that of the neighbouring countries. This poor state of Yemeni sports, is in a way - a reflection of Yemen's many institutions; which in turn is the result of the way these institutions are managed and organised. Managed and organised through: favouritism, cronyism and tribalism. It's not the best or the most qualified or the most capable - who are selected or chosen to serve or represent these institutions; it's who one knows, how close one is to those who matter and those who decide; and, at times, how much one pays - that gets one there. That gets one selected or chosen.

Had the Yemeni International boxing wonder and phenomenon: Naseem Hameed not been British born and raised, he would most certainly have been just another 'normal' Yemeni young man, like the other millions; unknown, his potentialities - unfulfilled. And his amazing boxing capabilities would have been wasted. There are many more Naseem Hameeds in Yemen - young people who have talent and can achieve much in sports; but it would need the allowing and setting up, here, the same kind of environment and atmosphere that created and made Naseem in Britain. Which is not likely to happen soon.

The best time to build any one's sporting, or even academic, potentialities is during early childhood and youth. As it is, Yemeni children do not have the conditions for that. Playing fields, even simple ones, are very few indeed; even schools are very poorly provided with sporting equipment and facilities. After school, most children have to make do with playing in the streets. Boys here in Mukalla, like in most parts of the world, love football; really love football. And riding bicycles. As there are very few, if any, specific fields for playing - they have to make do with playing and riding their bicycles in and along the streets. While autos and motorcycles speed by. Very fortunately, very rarely do the children get hurt through accidents.

Teach your children swimming, archery and horse-riding.” Not only did our foremost and Greatest Mentor teach and advise us so, his own personal life was full of many and various physical activities. If only we could create and make conditions that allow our children and youth to fully exercise and realise their physical capabilities and talents, Yemen - would without doubt - perform well in sports. Yemen would have many Naseem Hameeds. Not only Yemen: the Muslim world, in general, does poorly in most international sporting tournaments; and yet we have the best basis - Islam. and the best example - its founder - to achieve much more and be the very best. Spiritually, intellectually and physically - in sports.