NU-Qatar’s women’s basketball team wins league championship

Emily Chin, Assistant Campus Editor

The women’s basketball team at Northwestern University in Qatar has won the intercollegiate league championship, the University announced Monday.

NU-Qatar is the newest addition to the Hamad bin Khalifa University Basketball League in Education City, which it joined in the 2009-10 academic year. The team has placed in the top three each season.

The team did well despite the sport’s newness in Qatar and the cultural challenges it faced, according to an NU news release. Female athletes in the Middle East face challenges from religion, family and changing gender dynamics, according to a NU-Qatar study.

The study, Out of Bounds: Cultural Barriers to Female Sports Participation in Qatar, showed that overall rates of sports participation was low, though participation at NU-Qatar was rising.

“Sports competition and athletic activity have not been commonly encouraged for girls and women in the Middle East, so this brave basketball team is doing more than engaging in competitive activity,” said Everette Dennis, the dean and CEO of NU-Qatar, in a news release.

Female sports participation is a form of social movement in the Middle East, said sociologist Geoff Harkness, lead author of the study.

NU-Qatar’s team draws from a wide variety of nationalities and is coached by Dana Atrach, an NU-Qatar alumna, and Emily Wilson, manager for community relations at NU-Qatar.

“We’re Wildcats and athletes, and our unity as a team eclipses any nationality or cultural differences we might have,” Wilson said in a news release.

The team didn’t have an overly exceptional “superstar,” which is part of what allowed it to succeed, according to the news release.

“Opponents had trouble beating us because we didn’t have the one player to stop,” Medill senior and co-captain Maha Al-Ansari said in a news release. “Everyone brought something different but important.”

Email: [email protected]