Sudan’s women pursue football dream, challenging conservatives

first_imgCritics argue some conservatives are using an old playbook in Sudan: weaponizing stringent religious views to target political opponents, control women and thwart change.“Clearly this is part of an effort by Yousif to undermine the new government by stimulating a ‘moral panic’ regarding the subversion of gender roles. Partly it’s about his religious views, but it is predominantly a patriarchal form of gender politics,” said Willow Berridge, a lecturer in history at Newcastle University who has written about Sudanese Islamists.Yousif and his supporters “tend to occupy the most uncompromising end of the religious spectrum in Sudan.”The preacher’s diatribe has had little direct impact on the league. But Taghreed Awoda, an administrator with one of the teams, al-Difaa, and a feminist, said the showdown was part of a larger fight for change.“To have a women’s soccer league play in Sudan, this dismantles many of the main pillars underpinning the last regime,” she said.Under al-Bashir, laws like those restricting attire were inconsistently applied and disproportionately targeted the poor and less educated, as well as anti-regime activists, Awoda said. Women players were generally left alone if they kept a low profile, although one group was once briefly arrested, she said.Preparations for the league began more than a year ago in line with the objectives of the international football federation FIFA, said Mervat Hussein, head of the women’s  football committee at the Sudan Football Association. The efforts accelerated after al-Bashir’s removal, she said. FIFA, which sets criteria for developing women’s football, says member associations have objectives to meet to obtain funding.Women were at the forefront of the protests that eventually pushed the military to overthrow al-Bashir in April.Hala Al Karib, regional director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa, said this should have translated into more rights, but many laws discriminating against women remain in place even after the public order law was reversed.She said some hardline Islamists are fighting for their interests after losing clout in al-Bashir’s fall, arguing their rhetoric finds little resonance. Women’s issues usually “get turned into bargaining chips” and risk being sacrificed to appease hardline groups, she said. ‘People evacuated on their own’ ‘People evacuated on their own’ Lava gushes out of Taal Volcano as villagers flee “We’re Muslim people and we love our Islam and how religious we are,” she said. Women sports were fine in closed areas, she said.The players say there’s no conflict between their faith and their sport.Gadal said she once heard men at the stadium saying women playing the game was “haram,” or religiously forbidden, and the players belonged at home. She ignored them.“I fast, I pray and I perform my Islamic duties. I see no problem,” she said, pointing out that numerous Muslim countries field women’s football teams.Balatone, who was raised in a conservative household that is “religious but not extremist,” said she once explained to her brother why she was so determined to play.She had already given up a lot. She had three passions: singing, football and English. She couldn’t afford college, she dropped singing because she was told it’s haram.“When it came to soccer, I said ‘Excuse me, I cannot let soccer go,’” she said. “We live and breathe soccer.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next View comments US stocks climb ahead of trade deal, sending S&P 500 to record high MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. In the midst of all the wrangling is the story of women who say they just want to play football.“These are people who have struggled, toiled and have pressed ahead in the face of so many attempts to destroy their talents,” said Amany Anas, a player for al-Tahadi team. “Now the moment has come when they can show people that women could play just like men.”Al-Difaa player Fatima Gadal said in the past players sometimes used their own money to buy balls and gear. At times, she skipped buying food to afford bus fare to go play. “We were very much so on the margins.”Some things are still austere. After a recent game in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, the al-Difaa team squeezed into a minibus with cracked windows, rusty interiors and not enough seats. The engine soon quit and team members pushed the bus, cheering when the engine restarted.The players hope official recognition will now result in more opportunities. Some families asked to enroll their daughters after they saw the league, said Anas.At the Omdurman game, the players picked up fans — men and women.One spectator, Akram Abdel-Aziz, said he didn’t expect to see women play football in Sudan.“It’s a lovely thing that I hope will continue. I love the courage of the women on the field,” he said. “I pray and I am a believer … and I can see that women are covered up and dressed modestly.”On the field, most players wear leggings under their shorts, but otherwise are in regular football kit, and many don’t cover their hair.Some are not convinced. After praying at the mosque where Yousif preaches, a woman who gave her name only as Balqis said she wouldn’t allow her daughters to follow in the players’ footsteps, stressing the need for modest attire. More than 40 quakes hound areas reeling from Taal Volcano’s eruptioncenter_img “There’s nothing in this world that I love more than soccer. Please let me play,” she says she told her family. For years, she and other women played largely in the shadows, sometimes on dirt pitches they cleaned themselves, often bouncing from one spot to another.The women finally took center stage when the world watched them play at a Khartoum stadium as the youth and sports minister and others celebrated Sudan’s new, officially recognized women’s football league. Balatone even had her family’s blessings.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSAndray Blatche has high praise for teammate Kai SottoSPORTSBig differenceSPORTSAlmazan status stays uncertain ahead of Game 4But it’s more than just a game. The women’s league became a field of contention as Sudan grapples with the transition from three decades of authoritarian rule that espoused a strict interpretation of Islamic Shariah law and, activists say, disenfranchised women in particular.Transitional authorities have taken some steps to roll back the legacy of ousted President Omar al-Bashir. In November, they overturned a notorious “public order” law that the prime minister said had been used as a “tool of exploitation, humiliation,” resulting in “atrocities” against women and youth. Rights defenders call it a step in the right direction, but say the fight is far from over. No need to wear face masks in Metro Manila, says scientist Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles02:43Philippines make clean sweep in Men’s and Women’s 3×3 Basketball01:05Poor visibility, nakaapekto sa maraming lugar sa Batangas03:028,000 pulis sa Region 4-A, tuloy ang trabaho03:57Phivolcs, nahihirapan sa komunikasyon sa Taal01:04Sold-out: Stores run out of face masks after Taal spews ash01:45Iran police shoot at those protesting plane shootdown01:54MMDA deploys rescue team to Batangas following Taal eruption Pagasa sees cloudy skies, scattered rain showers in volcanic eruption-hit areas No nostalgia for Tom Brady as he enters latest postseason run Air quality in NCR now improving after Taal ashfall In this Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 photo, Sudanese al-Difaa, in yellow, and al-Sumood women teams play in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, Sudan. The women’s soccer league has become a field of contention as Sudan grapples with the transition from three decades of authoritarian rule that espoused a strict interpretation of Islamic Shariah law. (AP Photo)OMDURMAN, Sudan — All her life, Elham Balatone wanted to play football — like her brothers, like the boys on her street. But in the Sudan where she grew up, women could be flogged for wearing pants, let alone football shorts. She heard all the reasons why she had to give up her dream. It’s a Muslim country; the uniform is inappropriate; the sport was meant for men.She played anyway, wearing pants or putting on leggings underneath shorts.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Some ultraconservatives, however, have been pushing back. Preacher AbdulHay Yousif and others have painted football as part of a battle for Sudan’s identity.“What religion, what Shariah, what manhood would allow a Muslim woman to appear before men … with her arms, legs and some of her thighs exposed and then run before them,” Yousif told worshippers in October, shortly after the league, made up of 20 teams, started.“By God, these people have not come … for economic development or social prosperity or scientific elevation. They have come to destroy religion and morals.”He also denounced the youth and sports minister, a woman, saying she “doesn’t believe in what we believe in” and is a follower of “an apostate” — comments that sparked a legal battle between him and the minister.A pro-Shariah group that backs Yousif urged preachers “to use their pulpits to make the truth victorious and to defend the constants of Shariah … and expose the government’s secularization plots.”ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

Solid turnout for snowy Remembrance Day service

first_imgThe large crowd at the cenotaph in downtown Chatham didn’t let the weather stop them from remembering the fallen on Monday.An estimated 1,000 people, including many schoolchildren, stood quietly for the Remembrance Day ceremony, one of several that took place throughout the municipality.Tom Mountain, chairperson of the event, said he was “quite surprised” by the number, adding he was happy to see such am “excellent turnout.”With the snow falling, the Chatham-Kent police honour guard, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 642 Pipe Band, and a group of legion members, veterans and dignitaries marched down King Street West.Local elementary students performed the music and sang a version of John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.At the ceremony’s conclusion – after all the wreaths were laid – the gathering was invited to place poppies on the cenotaph.Mountain admitted it can be challenging for musicians to play in such conditions but said he was impressed by the day’s performances..However, a scheduled fly-over by four planes had to be cancelled because of the weather.Next year, Mountain said there is a special ceremony in the works to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. It will take place at Maple Leaf Cemetery.Monday’s event also marked the end of the third annual Christ Church C-K Remembers vigil, which featured residents and groups standing at the cenotaph in shifts since last week.Ron Hunter, one of the organizers, said about 50 people of all ages took part.“We had really good turnout from service groups and individuals,” he said.Hunter added that organizers will try to get the word out about the vigil earlier next year to fill additional time slots.“We see people who are committed to it,” he said. “Whether it would be (people with) family members who were in the war and suffered, but also a lot of those people who recognize the fact we can’t forget about this kind of stuff.”tterfloth@postmedia.comTwitter.com/DailyNewsTTlast_img read more

MTN to up African music offering

first_img“With Africa’s mobile penetration now at approximately 50% of the 1-billion population, MTN sees a huge opportunity in music content being delivered on people’s mobile handsets via our www.mtnplay.com digital content portal.” Christian de Faria, MTN’s senior vice president for innovation, says there is a growing demand for digital content in Africa: “More and more people in Africa and in the developed world are going online for entertainment content,” he said in a statement earlier this month. “We are delighted to work with MTN Play to deliver this content to the rest of Africa.” CCA has a substantial catalogue of African musical content by artists in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya – among others. It also has rights to exclusive video content featuring a host of popular African artists, including Hugh Masekela, Fela Kuti and Busi Mhlongo. 23 June 2011 “Connect Africa is passionate about music from our continent,” said CCA managing director Antos Stella. “We have always strived to be ahead of the pack when it comes to representing African music, offering our artists and labels a bouquet of services from content to marketing, sponsorship and digital management. Vast catalogue of African music He explained that the African consumer, with an estimated spending power of US$1.4-trillion by 2020, has become highly aspirational with a taste for world-class goods and services over the last few years. Pan-African mobile operator MTN has teamed up with Content Connect Africa (CCA), an aggregator and provider of on and off-portal content, to offer a wider variety of African music to its customers across the continent. CCA’s vast catalogue includes recording labels such as AS Entertainment, Godfather (specialising in Nigerian content), Al Records (East and West Africa content) and Soulistic Music, which features top DJs like Black Coffee. Growing demand for digital content Through its deal with CCA, MTN will offer a wide selection of music content, which will be available either as full tracks or caller tunes. SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Sean Atkins US cable channel MTV has a new preside

first_imgSean AtkinsUS cable channel MTV has a new president following the exit of previous incumbent Stephen Friedman, who is leaving the Viacom business after 18 years.MTV has drafted in Discovery Communications executive Sean Atkins to take on the post, as changes at Viacom’s domestic cable business continue following a major company-wide restructure.He will oversee all creative and business operations for the youth-skewed channel, and those of sister channels MTV2 and mtvU, reporting to Doug Herzog, who was named president of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group earlier this year.At Discovery, he was most recently general manager and executive VP of digitalmedia and strategy, overseeing original online video strategy and multichannel networks including Revision3, SourceFed, Discovery News, and TestTube.With Atkins coming in, long-serving president Friedman exits, following MTV colleague Van Toffler, who was MTV Networks Music & Logo Group president out the door. Toffler’s role was subsequently split between Herzog and Cyma Zarghami.Other recent changes have seen Tom Calderone replaced with Chris McCarthy at the top of VH1 and reality producer Lauren Dolgen overseeing a merged east coast and west coast development unit.EVP and head of reality programming Dolgen now reports to Atkins, as does EVP and head of scripted development Mina Lefevre.Atkins also has experience in development, having run Discovery Studios’ west coast operation. Before Discovery, he was senior VP of digital media at HBO, head of programming and development at Yahoo! Entertainment, was acting COO of Vulcan Programming and EVP of A. Smith & Co. He has also worked at Warner Bros., Mediaconnex and The Walt Disney Company.“Sean is smart, creative, passionate, and remarkably energized about the sea change at hand in our industry,” said Herzog. “The strength of MTV lies in its ability to constantly reinvent, and Sean’s forward-thinking, versatile leadership willensure our brand and business continue to evolve and deliver for our audience.”last_img read more

Paulo Neves Altice has named Paulo Neves Portugal

first_imgPaulo NevesAltice has named Paulo Neves, Portugal Telecom’s CEO, as president of the board of the Portuguese unit in addition to his current role. Neves will now serve as president and CEO of the company.Armando Pereira, PT’s current president and co-founder of Altice, will now join the Advisory Council of the Altice Group.The company said that Pereira will continue to monitor the operational and technological development of PT, as well as the other subsidiaries of Altice.The Executive Committee of PT Portugal remains unchanged, comprising Guy Pacheco, João Zúquete, Alexandre Fonseca, Luís Nascimento, João Sousa, Sónia Machado and Alexander Freeze.“A close relationship with custoemrs is one of the essential assets of the ‘Altice way’, which combines an entrepreneurial spirit and a highly commercial focus,” said Altice CEO Michel Combes.last_img read more