Dubai: The secretary-general of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare (GAYSW) is confident the UAE women’s team will rise to the occasion when the West Asian Athletics Championships are held here next month.
“For the UAE this has been a historic moment as we are the first country in the Gulf to have a proper women’s team for track and field. And now that we have come so far, I am confident the medals and honours will start to follow,” Ebrahim Abdul Malek told Gulf News while attending a training session at the Dubai Police Officers Club.
The UAE now boasts of a pool of 40 women athletes who have been divided into two batches preparing for the West Asian Athletics Championships to be held in Dubai from December 12-15.
Half the athletes train in Sharjah, with the rest in Dubai under the watchful eyes of coach Svetlana Kuzmanova.
“Considering all things, having a women’s squad of athletes is an incredible start for the UAE. We have a four-year plan for the development of these girls, after which we will take a fresh guard and see where they stand,” Malek said.
“We are excited with what has been achieved so far in track and field. It has been all about hard work from the UAE Athletics Federation. Now we can look confidently ahead to performances from these girls, first at the Gulf level, then at regional and Asian levels.”
Malek promised that GAYSW would support initiatives from sports associations and bodies that could give the country a better chance of winning medals.
“The job of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare is to provide all the backing and support so as to ensure the UAE has a bright future in sports. We’ve made a good start in track and field and hopefully we will be in a position to reap the benefits in the next two years or so,” he said.
The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games will be one of the targets for the UAE’s women athletes. “Our goal at the moment would be to gain direct qualification for the Rio Olympics in four years,” he said. “We have made a good start and we would certainly look beyond Rio, where we can be among the genuine contenders for medals among the women.”