By Fakhri al-Arashi
The Moevenpick Ramadan Championship kicked off last week in Sana’a with more than 200 players representing different federations and individuals including American Ambassador Mathew H.Tueller who plays squash.
The tournament is named the new Yemeni Six States, renamed after the National Dialogue conference earlier this year. The championship was organized with the cooperation of the General Federation of Basketball, Tennis and Squash Federation, Volleyball and the Sport for All Federation. Teams and individuals consisting of 160 players are representing different clubs in Sana’a and competing for all common games as well as newly added games like the speedball, badminton, and volleyball for the first time.
The guest of honor and the Squash Player of the Year, the American Ambassador Mr. Tueller reflected on his participation in the sporting event as an important task to build good relations with the people. As the ambassador wished the participants great success and a wonderful time, he continued to brief the players with his government’s attention to such cooperative activities with the government of Yemen including sport activities.
“The U.S. Embassy sent four prominent Yemeni soccer stars to participate in the World Cup Soccer Coach’s program,” said the ambassador. Among of those starts are Ali Al-Nono and Ghamdan Al-Harazi from Sana’a, and Wail al-Aghbari and Alim Ba Lhamar from Hodaidah, along with other soccer stars from throughout the Middle East last month from June 1st to June 18th.
In 2012, the U.S. Embassy sent four young Yemeni female coaches on a Sports United Volleyball Program for three weeks. The program opened their eyes about the positive role sports that can play in the lives of women. “The coaches even put together a professional, bound book outlining their experiences in the States and giving them a better opportunity to know more,” said the ambassador.
Organizing such sport activities are important for children from a very early age, as children learn to work together and participate in team activities. Participation in sports also provides many benefits to society, such as exercise, good health, community participation, competition, and teamwork.
“I believe these young athletes who are participating in the different games are very impressive and they will compete. I can see a lot of people building good friendships and healthy experiences. It is better to be here rather than being in home watching TV,” concluded the Ambassador.
In his statement, Arhab Al-Sarhi , the head of Tennis and Squash Federations wished to meet with the American ambassador at the final round. He said, “the ambassador is an excellent player and I would like to learn from him. I used to beat all players in the past few years, but this year It will look different to me with the presence of the Ambassador Tueller.”
“This year, squash players will meet with each other at the first round, while the second round the loser will be eliminated and the winners will continue to meet at the final,” said al-Sarhi.
Al-Sarhi continued to express his happiness for the continuity of the tournament despite the country’s difficulties that youth encounter to continue practicing their hobbies. “The continuity of this championship for the third year means we have full interest to achieve something new and it encourages youth to do more and keep themselves busy,” he said.
Abdulsater al-Hamdani the head of the Basketball Federation gave a speech at the official launch of the tournament. He said, “since we are celebrating the third year, it means the championship is moving in the right direction. Guests and sport participants are doubled. To be more practical at the Basketball Federation we have registered our team in the name of Moevenpick hotel,” said al-Hamdani.
The participants are juniors athletes between the ages of 14 and 16, which makes the competition aiming to move into a mini Olympics in the future.
Halmi from the Volleyball Federation expressed his thanks to the Moevenpick for holding this Ramadan tournament. “This is the first time for the volleyball teams to participate in this competition. The teams are divided by four and will see hard competition over the coming days. We brought to the competition young participants from the school of volleyball,” said Halmi.
Captain Nabil Mazwad, with the support of the Head of Federations and the Ministry of Sport and Youth, said, “we have expanded with more games this year. The participation of the American Ambassador is another advantage for the tournament. He is the guest of honor and this makes us proud,” said Mazwad.
The competition follows the international standard for speedball, badminton, squash, basketball, Tennis and the rest of the games. Speedball has been added to the games and it’s the only Arabic game via playing and rules.
Mohammed Al-Nunu, the sales and marketing manager at Moevenpick Sana’a Hotel, talked about the tournament’s history which began two years ago. The last year the competition was named the Competition of the National Dialogue. This year it has been named the Competition of the Yemeni States. Al-Nunu added, “through sports we can make positive change and we may overcome the current challenges.”
“We are developing year by year and we look forward to expanding to more games to reach the level of a mini Olympics,” said al-Nunu.
“The concept of these games is different from previous years. We have free games which attract individuals to play. All they have to do is to come to the Moevenpick, register their names, and play. We aim to make people enjoy the time and play freely,” concluded al-Nunu. “Thanks to our sponsors.”
The sales and marketing manager of Moevenpick Hotel gave the guest of honor, the American Ambassador, the shirt of the tournament as a souvenir to remember the competition over the coming years. Later on, the Ambassador and the Head of Federations made a tour to watch closely the ongoing battle among players.