Inspirational UAE footballer and coach Houriya Al Taheri is the latest face of Nike’s Dream Crazier campaign in the Middle East.
Al Taheri’s film reveals her story of how her dream began the first time she kicked a football with her brother in a park as a child. Since then she has been committed to changing the narrative around female football in the region and continues to champion the unexpected in announcing her next crazy dream – to one day be the first Arab woman to own a football club.
Scouted at age 17, Houriya started her athletic journey as goalkeeper for the UAE National team in 2009, leading the national women’s team to victory in 2010 and 2011 at the Women’s West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship. Since then, Al Taheri has become the first FIFA Arab coach, leading the UAE National team to make history, defeating Iraq in 2017 securing their first ever victory in a Women’s World Cup qualifier.
Al Taheri’s efforts have had an undeniable impact on the development of the game in the UAE. “We are raising a generation of women who love football who are the champions of the UAE and who will one day, with a lot of hard work and dedication become champions of the world. The doors are open for anyone to chase this dream and we are entering it with vigor, we are here to stay”, she says.
A sporting hero for the region and around the world, Al Taheri’s influence is not limited by borders, as she shared her insights at the UNESCO’s #ChangeTheGame event at their headquarters in Paris this week to discuss the future of Women and Football. During the event Al Taheri tackled the importance of upholding diversity, inclusion and gender equality in sport alongside internationally renowned female athletes and prominent figures.
Houriya has a broad perspective when it comes to her outlook on the game: “I’m not just a coach or an athlete, I’m a human, so helping people grow, or giving someone an opportunity is really important to me. I feel happy and content when I go home at the end of the day, knowing that I was able to do that – even when we lose a game, I always just think to myself: these young girls have an opportunity, that was not always available – and that is what is most important.”
Nike’s have release the second Middle East installment of their Dream Crazier campaign featuring the incredible Manal Rostom.
Dream Crazier with Manal tells Rostom’s story as an everyday athlete and her unwavering commitment to pursue non-conventional sports of mountaineering and running in the region for a hijabi woman, and her aspirations of leading a generation of unstoppable female athletes to step into their own crazy dreams.
Manal, who worked with Sport360 on the 100 of the Most Influential Women in Sport campaign, is the first Hijab wearing Nike running coach and was the first woman to complete an international marathon in the Nike Pro Hijab, “the hijab never limited me, it is the fear that limits us”, Manal affirms in the film.
Rostom continues to carve the way for athletes from the desert throughout the globe, evident in the unstoppable growth of her Facebook community, Surviving Hijab, with more than 600,000 members. Propelling forward the inclusion of Muslim female athletes in sports around the world, Rostom is already on her way to accomplishing her crazy dream to become the first Egyptian to complete all 6 major marathons and climb all seven major mountain summits (of which she has already completed two) by 2020.
Manal on Finding her Athletic Spirit
“When I was younger, I experimented with other sports, but I was either too short or didn’t have the right coach – until I found running. It was as if the sport chose me, I could train myself and work as hard as I needed to on my own. It became part of my identity and the track was no longer just a place for me to have an outlet for my energy, it was my independence. It became where I found peace, growth, and stability in difficult times.
“It gave me purpose and now, I cannot imagine myself without running, I have to keep going – not just for me, but for all the young girls after me with the same dream – this is what I live for.”
The seventh edition of the Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament – the biggest yet with more than 6,500 participants across 13 events – came to a close on Friday night with H.H. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of Dubai International Marine Club, presenting Saudi Driving School with the winner’s trophy following the NAS Futsal Championship final.
Saudi Driving School, winners of the title as Emirates Driving Institute 12 months ago, defended their crown following a tense 2-1 win over three-time winners Fohood Zabeel, with all three goals coming in the first half.
Fohood Zabeel had the consolation of winning three individual awards – Hassan Ali Hassan was named the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament, Jamil Ahmed was adjudged the Best Emirati Player and Williams Oliveira Do Nascimento picked up the Best Foreign Player award. Thiago Tellis Martinez of Al Taher was the tournament’s Top Scorer with 14 goals.
H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum presented the two finalists and third-placed Dubai Police, and the individual award winners with their medals and trophies at the closing ceremony, in the presence of H.E. Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, and Hassan Al Mazrouei, Director of NAS Sports Tournament.
Representatives from all the sponsors of NAS Sports Tournament 2019 – Dubai Duty Free, DP World, Meydan, Al Tayer Motors, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services, RTA of Dubai, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Electricity and Water Supply, Arabian Radio Network, Noon and Al Baddad – were also honoured at the closing ceremony.
Congratulating the winners, H.E. Mattar Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, thanked His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council for his generous patronage of the NAS Sports Tournament and the sports sector in general.
H.E. Al Tayer also thanked H.H. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for gracing the closing ceremony of the tournament.
“Under the guidance and generous patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the NAS Sports Tournament has emerged as the top community sports events in the country and the region,” said H.E. Al Tayer.
“This year, we increased the number of sports events to 13 from 11 last year, and we saw 6,535 participants belonging to 90 different nationalities compete over the past 18 days, cheered on by more than 50,000 spectators.
“The seventh edition of the NAS Sports Tournament, of course, will be remembered for another milestone – the launch of the Sports Imprint Award, which is a joint initiative of Dubai Sports Council and Watani Al Emarat Foundation, and presented as part of the Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament.
“The Sports Imprint Award is an important initiative that seeks encourage and honour individuals or organisations that spread positive values in society through their humanitarian initiatives in the sports sector.
“I would like to congratulate the Organising Committee of the NAS Sports Tournament, chaired by H.E. Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, on the success of the Tournament.
“The Organising Committee has successfully implemented the directives of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum by bringing athletes and fans of different cultures and nationalities on a single platform that promotes sports and a physically active lifestyle at the community level.”
Thanking the fans who packed the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex and other venues across the city every night, Tournament Director Hassan Al Mazrouei added: “The NAS Sports Tournament is not just a sports tournament but a social or family gathering in the night of this Holy Month of Ramadan.
“Confirmation of that came tonight in the NAS Futsal Championship final. It was an amazing atmosphere and I am sure the fans enjoyed a match that was really worthy of a final. Both teams played at a really high technical level, showing why both of them deserved to be in the finals.
“The prize money – AED 1 million for the winners and AED700,000 for the runners-up – is a huge incentive for the teams to go a win, plus the teams that reach the final do not have to go through qualifying for the following season.”