After a decade of civil war which killed thousands of innocent people and left millions displaced from their homes, Syria is slowly getting back on its feet.
The West Asian country is still not out of the woods, though. But its slow and steady recovery has given female athletes like Cedra Sulaiman new hope, allowing them to travel to different countries and showcase their skills and spirit.
Cedra is one of the stars for the Al Thawra Basketball Club, which has taken the ongoing Arab Women Sports Tournament in Sharjah by storm.
The Syrian club have stormed into the basketball final in the seventh edition of the prestigious tournament with crucial contributions from the 25-year-old Cedra.
The young cager who grew up admiring the iconic Kobe Bryant, says female athletes in her country never gave up on their dreams.
“Basketball in Syria, which was very strong once, declined due to war. But now we're on the rise,” Cedra told the Khaleej Times.
“Girls never stopped playing sports and they will never stop. Nothing can stop women in Syria. We are strong, independent women.”
Cedra, whose parents also played for the Syrian national basketball teams, dreams of representing her country at the Basketball World Cup and the Olympics.
“Representing my country is a dream that every player aspires to achieve. The ultimate goal for any player is to represent their country in the best possible way. Any player in the world would feel immensely blessed to have the opportunity to represent their country in the World Cup,” said Cedra who has already represented Syria at the 2021 Fiba Women's Asia Cup Division B.
An explosive shooting guard, Cedra also does her defensive duties for the team.
“I contribute to my team by adapting to whatever they need; it's not just about scoring for me,” she said. “I'm flexible, changing my role to meet the team's requirements at any given moment.”
Remarkably, Cedra was not drawn to basketball until she was in grade nine despite both of her parents being accomplished basketball players.
Now it’s a sport that has allowed her to travel to different countries and defend the colours of her teams in a tournament like the Arab Women Sports Tournament in Sharjah.
“My experience (here in Sharjah) has been great, though a small injury affected me. I wish I could give more, but I focus on teamwork, helping my team work and succeed,” said Cedra whose team is gearing up for the final clash on Monday.
“Gratitude to the UAE for this tournament and we hope to win the gold medal. Tournaments like these are crucial for the development of Arab sportswomen.”
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