Let's hear from Safia and Karim
© FIFA.com

Today we hear from a duo of Egyptian students who attended the fourth edition of the FIFA/CIES Programme organised in cooperation with the University of Cairo. Safia Abdel Dayem and Karim Fathi, two young people with a passion for sport, devote a great deal of their working lives, free time and even their studies to sport. Through their answers, Safia and Karim share their doubts and hopes on sports management in their country. They also explain how the knowledge acquired during the FIFA/CIES Programme could maybe make a difference in the future.

Academic curriculum

Safia: Until the FIFA/CIES Programme, my studies had nothing to do with sport. Before I attended the programme, I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication related to marketing and psychology at the American University in Cairo. I guess you could tell me it’s important to be good at communication and psychology to work in sport today.

Karim: I combined “traditional” studies in business administration and marketing - also in the classrooms of the American University - with training in sport. I was awarded the C-Licence in sport management by the CAF last summer.

Professional activities

Safia: Concerning my professional activities, I’m very involved in sport and I really enjoy it. I am a qualified football coach and I will soon become the first woman to coach a men’s team in Egypt. I am really very proud of this success.

Karim: In fact, I’m still a student, but not the type of student who’s always reading books or stuck in front of a computer - not by any means. I’m involved in several extra-curricular activities at my university. I’m also completing an internship in a company which is actively involved in education, and I’m working on a project with a few friends.

Sports activities

Safia: Needless to say, I play football. But I’m also open to other sports. Whenever possible, I like to enjoy different physical activities. I like road running. Recently, I started boxing, volleyball and swimming.It’s important to avoid too much routine.

Karim: Yes, in fact it’s more like my activities in sport. I am currently the manager of the FIFA Transfer Management System (TMS) for the Zamalek Sporting Club. I am also in charge of player transfers. This means that I work mainly in the fields of scouting, marketing, research and development. I also work with the public relations department of the club.

Favourite sports

Safia: On a pitch, football. On television, I still love football but I also like watching tennis and athletics.

Karim: I could almost answer the same thing. Football, in all its forms. I would also add table tennis and volleyball, especially during the Olympic Games.

Leisure activities

Safia: Running. but I’m also open to other leisure activities outside sport. Reading, painting. I also like travelling, discovering new horizons, different ways of thinking. Also meeting new people, making new friends.

Karim: What I enjoy most? Reading about sport, history and politics. I also keep up to date with anything related to football… are you surprised? Generally speaking, I’m interested in everything that is new, on the move in the wide world. And, as a true child of the 21st century, I’m a video game fan. Right now, I spend most of my time with FIFA 2013, and I’m really eager to get involved in Football Manager 2013.

What do you like about the city of Cairo?

Safia: I’m going to be very pragmatic. I like Cairo because my family and most of my friends live here.

Karim: I like Cairo because most of the population is friendly. People know what it means to help each other out. This is particularly true in difficult times, during crises, like the recent revolution.

What makes Cairo a difficult city to live in?

Safia: The answer can be summed up in two words, “traffic" and "pollution”. With these two plagues, the issue is no longer “living” but “surviving”.

Karim: I agree with Safia. There are always traffic jams in the streets and that makes life in Cairo almost unbearable at times. On average, an inhabitant of Cairo spends half his day in the street, stuck in traffic jams between his home and his office, the supermarket or any other place he needs to go to.

Favourite singer

Safia: Oops, I don’t really know what to answer here. In fact, I’m not so much into music. I mean, I like music but I don’t have a singer who is an absolute idol. I’m not much of a “groupie”.

Karim: Do I really have to answer? OK, then maybe Maroon 5.

Favourite animal

Safia: Dogs. They’re close to us and they’re loyal. In a word, man’s best friend, and man is certainly not his own best friend…

Karim: I would say dolphins. They are friendly and intelligent creatures, they learn quickly. And above all, they’re willing to help us if we run into difficulties at sea. Yes, I think they can be real friends to us.

Your dream country

Safia: No hesitation there. If I look at things from a sports perspective, the United States. For the simple reason that they offer an extraordinary training programme for women’s football. It encourages education outside the sports field. It is open to all girls over the age of four in the whole country. This is absolutely fantastic, no limits.

Karim: Certainly an English-speaking country. I could adapt easily as I speak the language. I would say the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, with a soft spot for England, the 'number 1' country for football which is a second religion for many inhabitants, like for me.

Your main quality

Safia: Without hesitation, my leadership capacity. Which is perfect as I admit that I like “running things”.

Karim: I think that I’m able to complete most of the tasks I’m given and meet my responsibilities. Even if it takes a lot of time, energy and investment to find the best solution. I don’t give up easily. I like the word “perseverance”, although it shouldn’t be confused with “obstinacy”.

Your worst flaw

Safia: Do you want only one flaw? All right, then, let’s say that I’m quick-tempered. I can get angry very easily. And heaven help those who don’t run away when that happens.

Karim: This may seem to be a paradox if you look at what I just said, but my worst flaw is that I get easily attached to things, but for very little time. Then, I need to move on to something new, read the next chapter, make a new discovery.

If you were reincarnated, who or what would you like to be?

Safia: Certainly a bird. I could fly away, travel around the world, explore unknown lands and appreciate as many different cultures as possible.

Karim: Once more, I’ll stay in the world of football. Sir Alex Ferguson… Does the Manchester United coach need any introduction? What really fascinates me is his longevity and his energy, his passion. Coaching the same team for so long and still staying enthusiastic, as if each day was his last day at the club.

A fundamental principle in life

Safia: Integrity. People who have integrity base their lives on strong moral principles. I think that this principle leads to success in many fields, even if you sometimes have to be very patient.

Karim: I would quote two sayings: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “If you do good, you will be rewarded by good”.

How did you hear about the FIFA/CIES Programme?

Safia: Amr Moheb, the CIES coordinator in Egypt, drew my attention to the programme during a class for women’s football coaches organised by FIFA. Amr is excellent at advertising. And me too, in a way, because my brother started the programme this year.

Karim: I heard about it from another member of the FIFA/CIES International University Network, Zohair Ammar, who is the programme manager in Egypt. I also read articles surfing on the Internet.

What are the benefits of the Programme?

Safia: The first benefits are obviously related to the content of the modules and curriculum. But the advantages of this type of programme go way beyond that. The network you can create is incredible, it exceeds what other courses or diplomas can offer. Just look at all the people - students, teachers, speakers - who interact. Most come from the sports industry and share their knowledge, their experiences. What more could one want?

Karim: I really made the most of the programme. It allowed me to obtain a lot of practical information from people who are actively involved in sport. This is very different from what other courses offer as they are essentially based on theory. In a word, one of the most important aspects is the creation and development of a network. The other programme participants are not just students who sit quietly in class. They can become your future partners at professional level.

Were you able to use some of the things you learned during the Programme?

Safia: Yes, without a doubt. I’ve already been able to use many tools in fields ranging from law to strategic planning. For my part, what I use most is the new knowledge acquired in marketing and management. And not only at work, but also in my social life…

Karim: The programme allowed me to discover new techniques and gave me access to information I wasn’t aware of. In particular, I have excellent memories of the marketing and law modules, my two favourite fields.

Any anecdotes you’d like to mention?

Safia and Karim (together): Yes. When the students decided to organise a football match. The match was very international, with players from Egypt, Qatar, Nigeria and the Sudan - a great opportunity to enjoy ourselves and get to know each other better. But what impressed us most was to see how sport brings everyone together on the same pitch, a moment of international understanding, without saying a word. (Karim can’t help adding, with a little smile: “And to crown it all, I scored three goals…”)

What is the main challenge facing sport in Egypt?

Safia: Clearly, it’s corruption. Not only in Egypt, but all over the world. There is a lot of money in sport today. this favours personal interests. To change things, the young generation, with its passion and knowledge, needs to have access to responsibilities in sports organisations. This is the only way to stop corruption one day, or at least to reduce it, to make sure it has less impact.

Karim: For me, in Egypt, the key challenge lies in the dependency of clubs. They must start to break free from government supervision. We also need to get rid of the people who dominated and perverted sport for decades. It is time to make place for young people who will be able to work efficiently thanks to their education and knowledge, and to the relevant information. Intuition is a thing of the past! Personally, I would also encourage foreign investors to invest in Egyptian sport to make it more competitive, to move from a local level to a global level.

Any advice for future sports managers in Egypt?

Safia: Don’t get caught up in the “system”. On the contrary, create your own environment; be honest, with no place for corruption.

Karim: Future managers need to be aware of one thing: The sky’s the limit! Don’t stop on the way, once you’ve achieved your first results. Keep going, as you can do more. Never stop looking for more information on your sport: Read and make good use of the Internet. Listen to the advice of professionals. Give your very best. Never give up because one day you’ll make your sports dreams come true!