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Egypt’s first MMA fighter blazes path for extra girls

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Jan 10, 2021

Egypt’s first feminine combined martial arts (MMA) fighter has damaged social stereotypes by pursuing a male-dominated sport and is now encouraging different girls to comply with swimsuit.

“I started in 2000 as a karate player and took the brown belt. Then I joined the Kung Fu national team and won competitions with the team. When I succeeded in the sport, I decided to continue with them as well as join other similar sports,” Aya Saeid, 29, informed Al-Monitor.

Then, Saeid, aka Sheklesa, met captain Mohamed Abdel Hameed who began the MMA sport in Egypt and established the Top Team. “He is a great mentor and I have always looked up to him. He trained me until I competed in world competitions,” Saeid mentioned.

The Top Team is a combined martial arts crew, skilled by Abdel Hameed. Saeid is the one lady within the crew and the primary lady to enter the game in Egypt.

Saeid, who has a husband and a daughter, confronted many challenges as soon as she determined to observe the game, as she was living in an underprivileged and really conservative neighborhood the place she was topic to a lot of criticism.

“They were telling me that I am like a man and not a woman. At times I got deeply depressed, but my father always supported me and he encouraged me to keep going,” she mentioned.

Saeid is just not solely an MMA fighter, however she can be a world coach. Three years in the past, she began instructing programs that qualify girls as fighters and coaches.

She additionally taught a number of programs in self-defense to assist women defend themselves in opposition to sexual harassment or any type of violence.

“I do not only want to take part and win international competitions, but I also want to encourage other women who have a passion to follow suit and set up the first [female] MMA team in Egypt,” she mentioned.

MMA is a comparatively new sport that began within the United States in 1993, and it mixes different varieties of martial arts with all modes of hanging and wrestling.

Gloves and a toothpick bo staffs are the 2 permitted instruments for an MMA fighter throughout a match, which consists of three rounds of 5 minutes every with a minute break in between.

The match ends with a knockout, give up or a call by the referee.

“It is not an easy sport. It is very hard and it needs passion, but I have seen many women who are passionate about MMA,” Saied mentioned. “Women must be given a possibility to enter any subject they like as a result of they will do something so long as they’ve the eagerness for it.”

According to the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, Egypt ranks low in gender fairness in comparison with different international locations worldwide. 

The index, which measures disparities between women and men throughout international locations, ranked Egypt at 136 out of 145 international locations. It reported that ladies have considerably decrease participation within the labor drive than males — 26% versus 79%.

“Women are still underrepresented in workplaces in general and sports in particular and the increase of their representation would not only benefit those women socially and economically but also would benefit the state,” mentioned Randa Fakhr el-Deen, a girls’s rights activist and government director of the Union on Harmful Practices Against Women.

She informed Al-Monitor that having these girls preventing for a spot in sports activities and the office would regularly break the social stereotypes and improve girls’s illustration in Egyptian society.

Saeid aspires to have her personal academy the place she will practice extra girls within the sport and allow them to defend themselves in any scenario of violence or sexual harassment.

A 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation ballot discovered Cairo to be essentially the most harmful megacity for girls, and a United Nations’ survey in 2013 discovered that over 99.3% of ladies had skilled harassment in Egypt, a rustic the place girls have lengthy felt deprived.

“I want women to not only practice the sport but also make it part of their lives as a means of defending themselves in any situation,” Saied concluded.

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