She is a champ, thanks to her mother
Alfarsi said through sports, children like Lamia can help break stereotypes.
Dubai - Tariq, the youngest Emirati to compete professionally in rhythmic gymnastics already has a list of triumphs in different competitions.
Published: Thu 24 Aug 2017, 9:15 PM
Last updated: Thu 24 Aug 2017, 11:21 PM
Going through intense amount of gymnastics training daily isn't easy for a six-year-old.
But for Malak Alfarsi, mother of little Emirati Lamia Tariq, the struggle she is going through is minimal to what the girl has already achieved and is about to achieve.
Tariq, the youngest Emirati to compete professionally in rhythmic gymnastics already has a list of triumphs in different competitions. She is the youngest and only Emirati ambassador chosen to lead the Dubai Women's Run, which will be held on November 17, who is also the hopeful of an Olympic gold for the UAE.
"Children, whether male or female, should represent their country in one way or another. With sports not widely acknowledged within the Emirati women community yet, I'm sure children like Lamia can help change this," said Alfarsi.
Training since she was five, little Tariq juggles studies with 20 hours of intense training every week at the Dubai Youth Olympic School. Alfarsi said through sports, children like Lamia can help break stereotypes and contribute to representing their countries in different walks of life. While the world continues to witness what Emirati women achieve, Alfarsi said there's so much more that can be done.
"I think the world views us today with an open mind. I don't think they presume we don't have rights because we have our ministers who made international headlines and successful CEOs who reached new heights. People accept that all Emirati women can be exactly like any other woman, or man, for that matter," said Alfarsi.
She added that female children have an active role to play in representing their societies, which will carry the leadership's message. They have their role models in the government that they will aspire to become.
"The Emirati women we see in the cabinet are all young and educated role models who have to make such large decisions for our country. Our children will grow up into being women like that," said Alfarsi.
She added while rulers encourage women empowerment, it is the woman's role to achieve success to help the government understand that what they're doing is right. "We have established women in all walks of life, but in sports there's a little hindrance and we should encourage our children to make breakthroughs," she said.
With Dubai Women's Run sponsoring Tariq's training, Alfarsi said it says a lot about the supportive community that supports Emirati children to achieve what they want and help them train harder and get into international competitions.
Fighting stereotypes and criticism Getting Tariq into sports from a young age will give her stability, discipline, health fitness and mental strength, which, her mother said, is very important for children development and woman empowerment.
Tariq's parents faced criticism from the family for pushing the girl hard at a young age, but Alfarsi said the stigma rises beyond that; it is towards the costumes, flexible movements, and nature of training.
"But one year later, everyone is proud of what [Lamia] has achieved, and she'll continue to make us all proud. Starting anything new is difficult until people see the results and change their perspectives accordingly."
She added that the stigma around women getting into some sports can hinders progress. "Women of any nationality can do what a man does, if not more."
Alfarsi said breaking such stereotypes from a young age will pave the way forward for women.
"My daughter will fight stereotypes. The Arab World is growing and the mentality is changing. And with our leadership's support, women will continue growing and reach larger heights," said Alfarsi.
The mother already has plans for her second daughter. "She loves horses so I will get her into horse riding. Recognising a child's talent and encouraging them for it will allow them to grow into strong personalities that their country needs."
Alfarsi urged government authorities to continue supporting children and encouraging them into sports. "Sometimes financial constraints stop the child and parents. Support in whatever way - whether through campaigns or awareness - will allow children to do much more and become active members of the community."
On Emirati Women's Day, Alfarsi calls upon women and children to never give up on their dreams. "Dream big and you will achieve. Keep fighting for what you want to do. It is an initial struggle, but like our government keeps proving, we can do it."
Little ambassadorLamia became the youngest and only Emirati ambassador for the Dubai Women's Run, which is taking place on November 17 under the UAE Athletics Federation. She won first place in the Dubai junior international championships 2016 in December, Dubai Youth Olympic school interschool competition in May 2017, Emirates RG Cup in May 2017 and Open Grand Azur RG competition in Nice, France in July 2017. She is registered as the youngest Emirati to compete professionally in rhythmic gymnastics in the UAE.