Each month, Weekend will pose a different question to be debated on by a series of female Emirati columnists. This week, we ask Moaza Al Sharif:
What do you think about the level of sport for women in the UAE? Would you do anything to change it?
One lazy summer here in Dubai, I was doing absolutely nothing other than going from one sports TV show to another. One thing that amazed me when watching all those sports shows was the tremendous change that a person could go through, from knowing nothing about a sport to becoming a legend. Despite facing a lot of challenges, they had the attitude that nothing would ever stop them.
So I decided to take part in a sport that not so many women would choose; the majority of ladies that I encountered would rather join Zumba classes, belly dancing or aerobics. After having an inner conflict, I decided to go for muay Thai classes, and before I realised, I found myself in the ring doing my best to learn and, effectively, box away all the doubts that I had in my mind.
After three months of muay Thai, going for two-hour classes, three times a week, and really falling in love with it, I decided to take it to another level. A more dangerous but fun level. I signed up for MMA (mixed martial arts) classes, and started going regularly - until I got extremely busy with work and travelling.
It's taught me to fight with my brain first, and then, if necessary, use my fists and start attacking.
Another important quality that I gained from learning MMA and muay Thai is self-defence; we live in a dangerous world, and you never know when it's the right time to defend yourself, unless you learn how to. If you're capable of learning how to defend yourself using all the techniques that professionals use, you'll definitely survive without being frightened of anyone.
I've also learnt anger management. I'm known among my friends and family for having a temper that rises in a split second, which I think affected the way that I viewed and reacted to certain things. Now, I know how to really control my anger without the need to break things or swear at someone.
As a woman, I faced a lot of difficulties, since it's still not acceptable in our society and the way that we view life to be involved with such sports. My main concern was finding a ladies-only gym that taught MMA and muay Thai, and to go to ladies-only classes, since it is not accepted to join mixed gyms or classes in my religion and culture.
Unfortunately, although I trained during women-only hours, I couldn't find a ladies' gym that would only teach women's boxing and actually teach how to fight competitively. That would be beneficial, not only now, but also for the future generations.
By the support of our family members and friends, we will definitely be able to compete worldwide. I encourage all women out there to start searching and exploring their inner fighter, and to really let it all come out.
My role models in fighting are Rocky Balboa and Muhammad Ali. Who are yours?
Moaza Al Sharif is an events organiser at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel in Dubai.
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