Canadian Olympian Cindy Klassen to speak in support of women’s sports for Palestinians

Sports for girls promotes physical activity and builds confidence at the Diyar Women's Sports Center in the West Bank. Photo: Diyar Consortium

Sports classes for girls promotes physical activity and builds confidence at the Diyar Women’s Sports Center in the West Bank. Photo: Diyar Consortium

Canadian Olympian Cindy Klassen will help launch the largest indoor sports facility in the West Bank with a symposium on “Empowering Women through Sports.”

The facility will host a Women’s Sports Center, the first of its kind in the region. Both the sports facility and the women’s sports program have received support from Canadian Lutherans.

The symposium will take place on March 2 from 2-4:30 p.m. at the Dar Al Kalima University College Auditorium, Mureir Mountain, Bethlehem. The official grand opening will begin at 5 p.m. at the new sports facility, called the Dar Al Kalima Sports Hall. A women’s soccer match and a reception will conclude the event.

The Dar Al Kalima Sports Hall will host the Diyar Women’s Sports Center, which has been active since 2008 but was in need of a dedicated space to carry out its programming. The center provides girls and women with much-needed opportunities to play sports, attend fitness classes and take part in a community that promotes physical and mental health. Conservative cultural values limit these kinds of opportunities for Palestinian girls and women.

“It is an honour to help launch the Dar Al Kalima Sports Hall,” says Klassen. “I hope this venue and these programs will be a springboard for personal growth and athletic accomplishment for many Palestinian girls and women.”

Klassen is a six-time Olympic medalist for speed skating, making her one of the most decorated Canadian Olympic athletes to date.

Soccer, basketball and volleyball teams will be among those who also use the venue. The sports hall will provide space for high-level Palestinian athletes and sports teams to train and host matches.

The facility’s construction received financial support from Canadians through Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR). The Diyar Consortium, a local Lutheran-based organization, will administer the facility.

“Palestinian girls and women have few opportunities to play organized sports or participate in fitness programs that are shown to greatly benefit physical and mental health,” says CLWR executive director Robert Granke. “We’re happy to be able to support such a valuable facility for the Palestinian community in the West Bank.”

Klassen is visiting Israel and the West Bank along with a group of Canadian Lutherans who have come to learn more about development and aid work carried out by CLWR in the region.

Canadian Lutheran World Relief carries out international relief, development, and refugee resettlement on behalf of Lutherans in Canada. Our vision is a world where people live in justice, peace and dignity, united in diversity, and empowered to achieve their universal rights to basic needs and quality of life.

The Diyar Consortium is a group of Lutheran-based, ecumenically-oriented institutions serving the whole Palestinian community “from the womb to the tomb,” with an emphasis on children, youth, women & elders. Focusing on community building, development and outreach, Diyar implements contextual and holistic programs that support the civic, cultural, psychosocial, physical, educational, and spiritual wellbeing of the community.


Agenda – Symposium and Grand Opening

(schedule subject to change)

“Empowering Women through Sports Symposium”

Location: Dar Al Kalima University College Auditorium – Mureir Mountain – Bethlehem

Date & Time: Sunday, March 2, 2014 from 2-4:30 p.m.

Opening Session

Mitri Raheb: President of the Diyar Consortium

Vera Baboun: Mayor of Bethlehem

Rabeeha Diab: Palestinian Minister of Women’s Affairs

Session 1: Sports as a Tool of Empowerment: Personal Testimonies


Cindy Klassen: Six-time Olympic Medalist in long track speed skating

Honey Thaljieh: Communication Manager – FIFA

Susan C. Johnson: The first female National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada


Nuha Khoury: Vice President for Academic Affairs – Dar AL Kalima University College of Arts and Culture.

Diyar Women’s Soccer Team – First Short Clip

Session 2: The Development of Women Sport in Palestine:


Samar Al A’raj: Founder of Palestinian Women Football

Naela Kharroub: The winner of the International Olympic Committee’s Trophy representing Asia

Areen Rinawi: Professional Photojournalist

Moderator: Ayat Sa’afeen: Chairwoman of the Palestinian Women’s Football Association

Diyar Women’s Soccer Team – Second Short Clip

Session 3: The Role of NGO’s and CRO’s in Empowering Women


Ghada Rabah: Country Manager of the Right to Play Organization

Charlie Haddad: Director of Education at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL)

Rami Khader: Manager of Diyar’s Academy for Children and Youth


Angie Saba: Public Relation Coordinator – Diyar Consortium

Diyar Women’s Soccer Team – Third Short Clip

Dar Al Kalima Sports Hall Opening Ceremony

Location: Dar Al Kalima Sports Hall – Mureir Mountain – Bethlehem

Date & Time: Sunday, March 2, 2014: 5-6:30 p.m.

Opening Address

Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb – President of Diyar Consortium
A Dream Come True:  A PowerPoint

Address by: Robert Granke – CLWR Executive Director

Gymnastics show – Students of Dar Al Kalima School

Address by: H.E. Mr. Jibreel Rjoob – President of the Palestinian Football Association

Short Opening Ceremony

Closing Address

Bishop Dr. Munib Younan –Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop of Palestine and Jordan

Diyar Women Soccer Team Match

Reception at Dar Al Kalima School Hall

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