The Sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS VI) is underway in Kazan. Delegates from more than 100 member states of UNESCO, as well representatives of international sports organisations are attending the event. Among them is Aya Medany, who represents the Peace and Sport organisation.
Aya Medany is a famous Egyptian modern pentathlete. Apart from her impressive sports achievements (Aya is a repeat medallist of world championships), Medany is also known for her extensive public activities. During the conference, Aya met with journalists and answered their questions.
“I represent Peace and Sport as a ‘Champion for Peace’. We have more than 200 elite athletes who stand for sport development as part of the concept of sustainable development, equity, and fair play principles. I travelled to small towns in Egypt and told little girls that they could do sports regardless of their religion or nationality. I’m sure that all categories of population should have inclusive access to sport. Regardless of welfare, religion, nationality, citizenship, place of birth and sex, all should have equal rights to do sports. When I was a little girl, my parents thought that sport was not for women, but I proved that Muslim girls could achieve results in high performance sport,” she started.
Talking about the conference, Medany admitted that the most important thing for her is to share her experience with the delegates: “My main task at the conference is to tell and show my story to the world in order to inspire girls on the whole planet, to explain my vision of sport development in terms of inclusive access for all. Sport should unite and not separate or put up barriers.”
“Tatarstan is a unique example of tolerance and mutually beneficial partnership between representatives of different ethnic groups and religions. I’d like to learn more about Russia, Tatarstan, Kazan. Unfortunately, my programme at the conference is very busy, a lot of receptions, meetings, interviews, but I believe that one day I can visit your city with my family. The Tatar culture, your traditions are very similar to the ones in my home country,” she added.
Medany remembered her colleagues who promote equity in sport and society in general: “I’m not alone in my fight. You must have heard about Malala, who fights for Muslim women’s right to education. You might have seen the US sabre fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad fencing with a head scarf on at the Olympic Games in Rio. Time magazine listed her among the 100 most influential people of the year, acknowledging the athlete’s commitment to her beliefs.”
Aya Medany gave some advice to children who practice sports in Tatarstan: “First of all, I want to wish sport in Russia and other countries to offer access to all who want to do sport. Sport makes people happier, kinder. Through sport we fight poverty, low level of life. Sport helps raise a healthy next generation.”“Do what you love. Kazan and Russia in general have unique opportunities for sports activities,” she added.
Media and Communications Department of Directorate for Sports and Social Projects