We sit down with - actually, we play football with - Ahmed Abdoun, the man behind 7 Sports Center, to discuss the business of sports, embedding a fitness culture in Egypt and what inspired his revolutionary new facilities.
In the early hours of the morning we walk into 7 Sports Center; we're surrounded by greenery, the air is fresh and the light breeze is welcome. We could sit in the shade but the sun is all too glorious. Being in the outdoors in such weather is therapeutic, and a great and healthy way to start the day. Ahmed Abdoun arrives in a suit and tie but instead of sitting down for our chat we decide to make use of the top notch football fields and play some football. Despite the suit, Abdoun effortlessly makes some great kicks whilst discussing his vision for the sports industry; a unification of sports and business.
As you look at the vast football fields, with one eleven-a-side pitch that can be divided into four fields of five-a-side, as well as seven tennis courts, a fitness center which hosts BeFit by Aly Mazhar, a beach volleyball court, a Squeeze snack and juice bar - and all that being only the beginning - you would never imagine that this used to be a run-down unused piece of land. It takes someone with vision to look at rubble and destruction and imagine it as fields of green where a healthy community can thrive. Abdoun looked at the piece of land that belonged to the school he once attended and decided to make his wish a reality. “There were 20,000 m² of deteriorating unutilised land. Because it belonged to my school, Victory College, it was my dream to utilise this place - to have it as a space for families to gather, to promote healthy living. This land was my inspiration; we managed to transform it in 92 days and now the school can use these new facilities. School sports education’s quality is deteriorating and the responsibility falls on all of us to push for its growth."
Interestingly, 7SC is so much more than sports facilities; it is a way of life, a new sports ideology. “This is a chance for everyone take part in sports. In my generation you had to be a professional to pursue a sport so the people who didn’t make it to top leagues would be left to just watch. 7SC is for both talent and amateurs. Unlike your average club, this is a concentrated and controlled space, offering the best of the best from the facilities to the coaches,” Abdoun continues between kicks, “Being passionate about something is the essential ingredient to help you develop the skills you need.”
7 Sports Center plans to be a pioneer for a new sports culture pushed by families. “By continuing our expansion and opening in different areas, we are going to start introducing competitions between districts. We also plan to introduce new sports such as gymnastics which will be on in about a week,” an ambitious Abdoun tells us.
We're lucky to be joined on the pitch by Project Manager and Real Madrid Football Academy Head Coach Ali Sakr, as he gives his own take on how he perceives 7SC. “The thing is, this isn’t a place where families just come watch their kids play or for a specific age group. Everyone comes to play sports here so you build a wholesome culture where everyone is involved. It’s a space in the heart of a busy residential area, therefore very grassroots and accessible. These days you see kids and adults alike glued to screens, forgetting how important it is to have physical activity in their life, but this is an attempt to break the routine.”
Opening in the near future in 6th of October and Kattameya, 7 Sports Center has launched a microcosm of a world where sport is the remedy. “You know something, other than the facilities one of my favourite things is the positive vibes here. Whenever I’m stressed coming here really relaxes me,” Abdoun concludes. With 7SC he has scored major points in developing a hungry sports industry in Egypt.
To find out more about 7SC, click here.