For Qatar National Sports Day, we look to three of Qatar's modern female athletes who are simply power and perseverance personified
11 February 2020| Last updated on 16 February 2020
Training to be a professional athlete is an arduous journey...
Participating in countless hours of training, preserving a high level of motivation and managing the pressure of performance are just a few of the monumental challenges.
Now add into this heady mix the complication of navigating a strongly embedded culture and established social mores, that apply to women in the Middle East, and you have something akin to an Everest to summit.
Heroically, Qatar-based women athletes Amal Mohamed Saleh, Afaaf Alqorane and Mariam Farid have not only faced the physical and mental challenges of tedious training to become elite athletes, but they are also trailblazers in setting an inspirational example for women in the Middle East.
Their unwavering resolve to compete in a male-dominated world, to openly be photographed and to travel as required is a tribute to their love and dedication of sport.
Meet Amal Mohamed Saleh
Amal has a million-dollar smile that immediately puts you at ease.
Her high energy, intensity, and love of basketball is immediately evident upon meeting her.
Amal successfully plays Shooting Guard - 3 and Small Forward - 4 positions for Qatar’s national basketball team.
In the recent GCC Games 2019 hosted by Kuwait, the Qatar national women's basketball team won the basketball finals against the United Arab Emirates to secure the gold medal and be crowned as the champion in the GCC Games 2019.
Not only is she a proficient player, Amal coaches and is proudly the first woman referrer in both the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the men’s basketball league of the Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF).
Amal credits her family for supporting her in the struggle to be accepted by the local community, and the larger sports world, as a woman in a Muslim society.
She also proudly shares that HRH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has had a powerful impact on her. Amal heeds Sheikha Moza’s words that a woman can be a mother, sister, student, and athlete.
Sheikha Moza also inspired Amal to be a Sports Ambassador through which she can give back to the sport that she loves and support other women in achieving their goals.
Photo credit: @amalmohed | Instagram
Meet Afaaf Alqorane
Afaaf, whose name means "modesty", is quick-witted and exudes resilience. Afaaf is Qatar’s first female boxer.
She explains that when she was growing up, she loved to watch Muhammad Ali box and she believed that she had the grit and desire to follow in his enormous footsteps. Afaaf recounts the thrill of watching Muhammad Ali’s strength and his penetrating eye contact against opponents - this was her inspiration.
Afaaf is a firm believer in respect and discipline in boxing. She had to first focus on technique so that she could channel her passion and energy.
With no official boxing academies for women, Afaaf trained with men and had to battle to gain their respect. She truly believes that women can do strong things, they only need the opportunity to prove themselves.
With her amazing coach and mentor, Master Nasser, Afaaf channeled her passion to become an amazing Olympic athlete.
Photo credit: @afaaf_alqorane | Instagram
Meet Mariam Farid
Marim’s eyes sparkle when she speaks with you. She proudly explains her 6 years of history in track and field, starting with 100-meter and 200-meter dash to her specialization of the 400-meter hurdles.
As a sports pioneer, Mariam was one of the first women to represent Qatar at the IAAF World Championships in Doha. In addition, Mariam secured the silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles at the Gulf Games in Kuwait last year. Most recently she has had the honor of carrying the flag for the Olympic Committee Qatar in the Flag Relay 2019.
Like Amal and Afaaf, Mariam’s family has been supportive of her sports journey.
Her father proudly accompanied her to her first tournament and remains by her side throughout her competitions. While her mother is also supportive, Mariam shares that her mother also cares for traditional notions of Mariam settling down to marry and having children.
With a successful career as an athlete and simultaneously completing a master’s degree, one wonders if there is time for marriage and children just yet.
These three remarkable women believe in the power of positivity.
They actively work with students and youth by encouraging them to be active and never stop following their dreams.
Truly an inspiration, these three athletes prove that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to.
Like Alfred A. Montapert stated, “To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan.. believe.. act!”