- Middle East/North Africa
"I'm going to be the world champion."
This was the message Abdel Rahman Mohamed sent from his cell phone to his coach just before a speeding car hit him on Foka Road, between Wadi al-Natroon and Al-Alamein.
Abdel Rahman was a cyclist, and he was cycling along that particular road as part of his training — until a painful accident ended his life at the age of just 14.
The scene itself is painful and very sad. But the tragedy is compounded by the reaction of the Egyptian Cycling Federation (ECF), which quickly said that Abdel Rahman was not registered with it as a cyclist, nor at any sporting club, but only represented an orphanage in 6th of October City.
The ECF announcement was both quick and blunt, quite lacking in sentiment.
When it emerged that Abdel Rahman came from an orphanage, rather than a sporting club, the ECF decided to drop the matter of his death and close its file on the case. The federation behaved as if competitors coming from orphanages have no worth or rights, as opposed to their fellow athletes from clubs.
Perhaps if Abdel Rahman had been just another kid on a bike who died in a road accident, the reaction of the ECF would have been no more than an ugly incident. However, Abdel Rahman was a cyclist who died in training, wearing his training outfit, and he declared his life's ambition to his coach just before his death.
I'm not holding the ECF accountable for Abdel Rahman's death, but I would like to see some degree of humanity and respect on their part in the face of the suffering associated with a boy's death.
This case has shown me that the ECF is not interested in finding out what really happened, nor will it demand any investigation, nor search for the criminal who killed a boy at the beginning of his life. The ECF said that the orphanage is entirely responsible for the accident.
I will not address the orphanage directly. I only call on Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly to look into the case of this innocent boy, who has no parents — a cyclist at the start of his life, with no sporting club to sponsor him, either in life or in death.
I'm afraid that everyone may approach this story with the same logic as the ECF. I worry also that nobody will seach for the criminal who hit Abdel Rahman, and take him to court. I suspect that nobody will investigate the orphanage in 6th of October City, which allowed the boy to train on an unsafe road.
I would like to ask the coach how he feels after Abdel Rahman died without reaching his dream of becoming a world champion. Does the coach feel responsible for failing to keep him from harm?
And what did he do after learning of the incident, even if his job as a coach for orphans does not allow him much power to take action?
I hope that Ghada Waly will be a mother to Abdel Rahman, feeling the appropriate concern, acting as a family that will defend his rights.