Yasmine Shaaban is one of Egypt’s hidden gems. She is a young athlete and an aspiring champion. The 21 year old has been practicing boxing for six years and had played Kung-Fu during her teenage years. We met with her at her place in Manial where she lives and practices her sport.
Yasmine’s father is an athlete too. He encouraged her throughout her journey and believed in her capabilities ever since she was a little child. “My father trained me and helped me build up my skills. He gave me a huge room in our house to practice on daily basis. He thinks that sport is as important as school and we should develop both”, Yasmine says.
Although Yasmine’s family gave her lots of support at the beginning of her journey, her mum still thinks marriage and settling down should be her main interest. “My mum of course wants me to get married and have a family but I try to convince her that life isn’t just about raising a family there is other important stuff a girl needs to focus on”, she tells. “I want to have a family one day, but life is composed of different phases and everything happens at the right time”, she adds.
Yasmine thinks that sports is very important in shaping a person’s life. One day, if she decided to settle down and have a family, sports will still be allocated in her daily schedule. “One day I’ll quit boxing like any other athlete who quits for age reasons. What’s important isn’t if I want to quit or not, the most important thing is to pass on my skill to other people who might benefit from it. I want to become a trainer and send my message across,” she says.
A lot of people might find boxing a sport that required major physical strength and mind not be female friendly, but Yasmine has something else to say “Boxing isn’t about physical strength, it’s more about intelligence. Your mind has to be powerful and stronger than your body,” she comments.
For a fierce girl like Yasmine, walking down the streets of Cairo might be different. With all the stories about sexual harassment that we hear and experience, Yasmine has a more interesting story to tell. “I was harassed down the street once by a guy who grabbed my backpack. He was with his friends and I turned around and punched him right in the face. He ran with his friends who were laughing hysterically saying ‘run for your life she is from China!’”, she laughs.
Yasmine is very optimistic when it comes to the young female athletes scene. She thinks that women are creating change. “I think that young women started taking other options when it comes to sports. They are looking for more violent disciplines. Things are changing”, she comments.
We have no doubt that Yasmine knows what women want. A powerful and smart girl like her is a great model for many women her age. “Women want to feel that they are influential and heard. They want to feel that they can teach others and be useful for society. Every woman needs a time for herself, she needs to be entertained especially when she has a family. She has to work out and create time for herself to move on”, she says.
Special thanks to Hetetna, an original series that explores different neighborhoods Cairo, Egypt which is produced by and airs on Al Hurra TV.