SHARJAH, Dr. Ashraf Sobhi, Egypt's Minister of Youth and Sports, stressed on the need to promote a culture of tolerance and true sportsmanship in the Arab world.

Speaking at the Sharjah Ramadan Majlis at the Al Majaz Amphitheatre on Wednesday night on "Sports and the Culture of Dealing with Opponents", the Egyptian minister said, "One has to learn to deal maturely with competition and adversity. Most of us see our competitors as opponents, ignoring the fact that it is merely a game and the other side is only taking part in the game just like us."

Sobhi pointed out that in developed nations, children and emerging players are given psychological and emotional training to deal with competition and adversity in sports from an early age. "We expect our team to compete and win at any cost. In more developed countries, they teach you to compete for the sake of the competition itself. This is the critical difference," he stressed, adding, "This is one of the reasons penalties in sports in the Arab world are too high because we cannot deal as we should with competition and an adverse ruling."

He called on sports clubs, governing bodies, team managements and educational institutions to play their part in creating a positive culture of sports and of appreciating sports.

Sami Al Jaber, the legendary Saudi footballer and the current adviser to Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority, said, "We were never trained and educated about dealing with the competition. This culture can be imbibed only through good upbringing and education. You cannot change at a later stage in life."

He described fanaticism as the "biggest disease" in sports and underlined the key role the media can play in creating a positive culture in Arab sports in the region.

Mohamed Juma bin Hindi, Vice Chairman of the Sharjah Sports and Cultural Club, highlighted the example of the emirate of Sharjah which, guided by the vision of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, had created organisations such as the Sharjah Ladies Club and Rubu' Qarn Foundation some 25 years ago to create leaders in all walks of life, including sports.

The fifth session of the Sharjah Ramadan Majlis, hosted by the Sharjah Press Club of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau, was presided over by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council, in the presence of Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Sports Council; Sheikh Saud Bin Abdulaziz Al Mualla, Chairman of the Sharjah Chess Club and President of the Arab Chess Federation, and a number of sheikhs, dignitaries, officials and sportspersons.

Source: Emirates News Agency