Manar Sarhan: Dentist By Day, Pundit By Night

One of my favourite articles to come out during Euro 2016 is the story of Manar Sarhan, a 27 year old Egyptian dentist who, every evening, analysis’s local and international football matches for a newspaper as Egypt’s first woman in mainstream football punditry.

© AFP / by Haitham El-Tabei | Football analyst Manar Sarhan watches the Euro 2016 quarter-final between Wales and Belgium at her home in the Egyptian capital Cairo
© AFP / by Haitham El-Tabei

Sarhan also appears weekly on the private CBC television channel to comment on matches in the competition, a rare sight in a field monopolised by former football players, all of them men.

“I chose dentistry as a career with my mind, but football is my passion and love,” Sarhan tells AFP in a private clinic where she freelances as a dentist.

“I tried to play football in the beginning but I didn’t find a good opportunity in Egypt and I think specialising in analysing football makes up a lot for it,” she says after examining a patient.

Sarhan began working in journalism as a volunteer in 2002, using a basic camera to capture footage for the website of her favourite Egyptian club: Zamalek.

Sarhan began writing for the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper and the popular Fil Goal website before she was picked up by satellite sports programmes.

By day, Sarhan works in a government medical centre and chips in at a clinic owned by one of her friends. At night, she clears her schedule to follow games and to read the latest in the world of football.

“I’m a dentist by day, and a football commentator by night,” Sarhan says, laughing as she packs her medical instruments.

“The effort put into commentary is more in spite of the return being lower,” she says.

A profitable profession, dentistry is respected by Egyptians. It was not easy to enter the sports commentary world, especially as a woman.

“The field is already difficult for male youths, so what about a girl?” says Sarhan, who decorates her bedroom with posters of Egyptian and European football players.

“I was mocked in the beginning. They would tell me ‘Girls belong in kitchens’,” she says.

(Read the article in full at France24)

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