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More people talk about rugby in Egypt after Arab women’s sevens success

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Egyptian captain Farida Elzakzouk is hopeful that her side’s success at the recent Arab Sevens can help provide a springboard for the women’s match in the African nation.

Fielding an international team for the first time in a decade, Egypt won the women’s tournament without conceding a single point, beating Lebanon, Syria and the United Arab Emirates in Alexandria.

“It was amazing, to be very honest, because it’s really the first time we’ve played side by side,” Elzakzouk told World Rugby.

“We won the tournament with a clean sheet which is amazing because we didn’t expect that.

“We knew we were good and so on, however, we didn’t expect that progress. We are therefore delighted to participate in other tournaments. “

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The Egyptian Rugby Football Union was convinced to provide funding and coaching to the team by Transforma Panthers player Menna Sedky, who was part of the squad in Alexandria.

Elzakzouk revealed that the team have since been invited to play in international competitions in Africa and that they aim to help Egypt earn their place in the regional qualifiers for the 2022 Rugby World Cup. .

“More and more people are talking about rugby in Egypt right now,” she added. “A lot of people come to see me [and asking:] “How can I come? “How can I play?

“So I’m really happy that this hype has given rugby the good publicity it needs in Egypt. So I really hope that in five years the teams get bigger, we have more numbers in the national league in Egypt, which means we have a better chance of reaching better positions when it comes to others. [tournaments], whether in Africa or the Arab world or even globally.

Although Egypt beat Syria 31-0 in the group stage and then again by the same score in the final, Elzakzouk admitted that it was the team led by Sarah Abd Elbaki that made them most nervous.

Abd Elbaki has become an influential figure (https://bit.ly/30e1GeJ) of women’s rugby in the Arab world, and when not captain of her country, works as Syria Rugby’s women’s rugby development manager. , is an assistant coach. for the men’s national team and a referee.

“We all knew how awesome she is,” Elzakzouk said. “Everyone says she is well known and coaches different teams and she is very well known [on] the rugby field.

“So we were really nervous playing against her. However, I believe our coaches really gave us a lot of trinkets, how [cope]. “

PRESENT RUGBY TO A NEW AUDIENCE

Abd Elbaki learned she would captain in Alexandria a month before the tournament, when the team began their preparation for Egypt.

“It’s an amazing feeling, I’m so proud,” she said. “It’s an honor, actually, to be the captain of such a wonderful team and strong women. And I am so proud and honored to be the captain.

Abd Elbaki added: “We had our eyes on the gold medal, to be honest. But unfortunately we lost because Egypt is such a strong team and it is their home, and [their players] have a huge experience.

“So that was a tough number for us. But we did our best to be honest. We were fighting in this game.

Unsurprisingly for someone juggling four very different roles, as player, coach, referee and administrator, Abd Elbaki isn’t sure which one will end up dominating his time.

“It’s not easy, to be honest, but when you like something, you give it your all,” she explained. “I try to concentrate, I try to make a transition between them all and clear my mind.

“So, it’s not easy, but I’m succeeding and I haven’t chosen what I want to do for the future, [yet]. But I just want to keep trying them all until I find my way right. “

What is beyond doubt is the young Syrian’s will and passion for rugby, and Abd Elbaki is determined to bring the game to as many women as possible around the world.

“I’m so happy because that’s my goal, you know, that’s what I want to do,” she said of her growing profile in the game.

“I just want to introduce rugby to all the women in my country and not just in my country, in Asia and around the world.

“So it’s really amazing to be able to be in a place where you can meet more women. And I’m just working on that and I hope to be successful in inspiring other women.

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