PGA of America plays role in women in sports mentoring program

By Philip Fishman, Palm Beach Post October 20, 2017

Naoual Zaaraoui is living a dream in a world where “anything is possible.”

As an advocate and voice for women’s sports in her native Morocco, Zaaraoui is completing a three-week mentoring program at the PGA of America headquarters.

Zaaraoui is acquiring the organizational, sports marketing and communication skills necessary to advance the cause of working Moroccan women, future female coaches and athletes. She is gaining that knowledge under the tutelage of Sandy Cross, senior director of diversity and inclusion; Laurie French, director of technology; and Jenna Tidd, business operations coordinator.

PGA of America is an active participant in this sixth annual U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, where 15 countries sponsor representatives representing major organizations including Google, Fox Sports, the NCAA, ESPN, the NHL, and the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Executives from these various sports sectors, working with global female leaders, share entrepreneurial and management insights during the mentoring period.

Beginning next Thursday and through Oct. 31, all participants will gather in Washington to describe what they have learned and present to fellow members their own “action plan” to implement when they return home. The focus will be on identifying and solving existing and potential problems while promoting women’s sports.

Zaaraoui has been working on her very own action plan for the past six years.

She started The Golden Horse Agency six years ago as a way to give women in her country more sports opportunities. Her goal is to someday become Morocco’s second female sports minister.

“I believe women can now be leaders today not only in sports but in fields like medicine and economics. My goal is to create a positive experience with no limitations,” Zaaraoui said Thursday at PGA of America headquarters.

Zaaraoui’s comes from a family steeped in athletic tradition. She is the daughter of El Ghazi, a Moroccan Sports icon, who competed in the 3000 meter steeplechase event in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

“My dad was called the “fast horse” back then and I want to honor him as my role model so he can be proud of me and remembered in Morocco through my company,” Zaaraoui said. “Today he doesn’t know anything about the agency so it will be a great surprise.”

Her father’s commitment to his daughter’s future was exemplified when he offered to sell the family home to finance her tuition to the University of Oregon.

“I wouldn’t allow him to do that,” Zaaraoui said. “It just wasn’t right to sell our house.”

Zaaraoui was a long jump specialist until sidelined by a knee injury in 2010. She continued her involvement in sports by being named the Moroccan Sports Manager for the International Trainer Course (ITK) and later as a brand ambassador of Nike. She remains a youth track and field coach for the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation.

Zaaraoui’s passion to help shape the future of young women has been made stronger by her brief, yet rewarding stay in America.

“This was my first time in America and I will be sad to leave,” she said, “but I am so excited too to return home and share what I learned here.”

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