When Egypt Today last spoke with Olympic swimming sensation Farida Osman in 2017, she was showing the world how far determined Egyptian athletes can go, and challenging misconceptions about the power of Egyptian females. Back then she was determined to force a national and public recognition of swimming and other important sports in Egypt, and today she is one step closer to achieving this goal with Hyde Park Developments, who is partnering with the young gold medalist to launch her own swimming brand.
Osman—whose biggest goal “is to inspire young athletes to pursue sports and swimming specifically, because the more people start swimming and achieve great accomplishments, the more people around the world will start being more aware of swimming as a sport in general”—is confident that partnering with Hyde Park Developments will allow her to inspire young athletes, and help and support them throughout their journey.
How important is this collaboration to you and how can an established company like Hyde Park Developments help you achieve your goals?
My biggest goal as I said is to inspire young athletes to follow in my footsteps, to follow my journey as an achievable model. Having Hyde Park Developments with me would definitely make that easier and show the world how companies can be very supportive of sports and swimming so we go hand in hand in terms of goals and aspirations. They are very supportive of me not only as an athlete but also as a person. I’ve had a very difficult journey to achieve my success, and having Hyde Park Developments by my side now is helping me achieve more and makes it all worth it. Hopefully, Hyde Park Developments and I can inspire others to go through that journey even if it has difficulties, even if it has ups and downs, because at the end the success is all worth it.
Whose idea was it to create the Farida Osman brand? How do you position your brand and how do you feel the logo represents you?
I think it was a mutual agreement between me and Hyde Park Developments to have my own brand, because it is very important for people to relate and be represented by that brand, so hopefully the Farida Osman brand would be a good role model and good example for others to relate to and be represented by.
I want my brand to represent me as a person, just being a well-rounded person: having a good educational background, being able to excel in sports, and being able to balance my career and social life.Balancing is the key. I just want my brand to be able to represent that balance. So hopefully my brand would be this kind of ‘overall package.’
The logo, also, does not only represent me as an athlete and a swimmer, but also stands for my personality in the sense of it being flowy but also bold, courageous and up to the challenge. I chose a logo with ‘freestyle’ rather than ‘butterfly’ because freestyle is inclusive to all strokes. It’s the stroke that everyone learns first and it’s the easiest to do. I also wanted it to be inclusive of both men and women, so it can be relatable to both. The combination of all these elements in the logo really is a true reflection of my personality.
Sports sponsorship and sports marketing have become high-impact areas in business success. How do you see this partnership between FO and HPD benefit both entities?
I think this partnership between FO and Hyde Park Developments will benefit both of us.
It will support me and help me to achieve my goals faster, so having a supportive company like Hyde Park Developments would definitely boost my motivation and my drive to achieve my dream. It will add to me personally because more people would want to follow my footsteps and hopefully get inspired, so when you talk to young athletes or kids in general I think when you ask them ‘What you want to be when you grow up?’ and they say my name, that’s definitely an honor and I’m proud of it because that means they want to follow my footsteps and I am a good role model for them. Of course that’s something very important to me because at the end of the day that’s my biggest goal. I want to help and support children to achieve whatever they want to achieve and hopefully I can be a good role model for them.
I think it will help Hyde Park Developments too because it shows that Hyde Park is very supportive of local talents and how willing it is to give the attention and the recognition that athletes deserve. When we go hand in hand together, I think it would really send a good message.
Female-oriented sportswear brands are not available in our market. Do you see FO brand becoming a sportswear brand in the future?
I definitely see FO being a sportswear brand. I think I’m going to want to start with swimming because I am a swimmer first, but definitely in the future I want it to become more of a sportswear brand in general because I want to inspire, help and support any sport, not just swimming. Having fashionable, comfortable and stylish sportswear that has FO on it is definitely one of my biggest goals. Hopefully FO sportswear can allow our athletes to be confident and believe in themselves to achieve accomplishments.
In what ways do you think this exclusive sponsorship can impact your career?
I think the sponsorship can impact my career because it’s not only supporting me financially and helping me get all the resources that I need to become more successful, it will give me more confidence that there are people out there that care about me and care about my achievements. Knowing that I constantly have the support, care and attention of a company will boost my motivation and confidence to achieve more great things.
I think moving forward, the fact that we’re going to have an academy together is definitely something very important because through this partnership we would help others the way Hyde Park Developments helped me achieve my goals. Through this academy I want to be able to give children or anyone who’s interested in swimming the attention, care and support they need to inspire, help, encourage and motivate them to achieve their goals as well.
Hand in hand with Hyde Park, how will you work toward empowering girls and offering continued support?
As I said I want to be a good role model for all girls and boys, and hopefully through FO Swimming Academy we will achieve that goal. We want to be able to give girls the confidence and the motivation to empower them to become great athletes and great swimmers. I think through the academy and having my name and my brand and just my journey be a good example and good resource for them can empower and inspire them. I will give them the continuous support that they need.
The field of sports management, especially in Egypt, has traditionally been a men’s domain. How difficult is it to make a name for yourself in this sector? What obstacles have you faced so far and how are you planning to address challenges?
I think it is very hard to make a name for yourself in a male-dominant country because women in general are not really known for being good in sports. The fact that I and also other female athletes are excelling in sports is something we should be proud of and something that will change the concept of the stereotype that women cannot excel in sports. The more we have female athletes, the more we can raise that awareness, that we are capable of excelling in sports in Egypt and abroad at the same time.
We face obstacles such as people commenting on what we wear or what sports we play instead of just focusing on our achievement, I think that’s the biggest thing female athletes, not only in Egypt but also across the world, usually face but definitely more in Egypt. I think another obstacle that we face is the fact that we need to work twice as hard to prove ourselves every day.
I am confident in my performance and how I act and my achievements will speak for themselves and they will help break that stereotype that women cannot excel in sports. We need to just focus on the sport rather than the noise around us.
Your academic background will be essential in the way the brand is marketed and utilized. How do you see it being branded, both locally and on an international scale?
I think having an academic background is definitely important especially on the global aspect of it, internationally, the fact that I graduated from UC, Berkeley really shows that I am taking academics very seriously as well, not only swimming. UC Berkeley is the no. 1 public university in the world, so having that in my academic background is definitely a bonus, and adding that to my brand shows that I am an overall achiever. Locally and internationally I can be an example of how Arab girls are capable of being all these things—a good swimmer, good student with great academic background, good person—not just focusing on one area or one sector.
With limited funding and facilities, the government is finding it hard to support outstanding athletes. How much of a role should the private sector be playing to balance this out and boost careers of athletes and sportsmen and women?
I think it is very important. The more companies are able to support, sponsor, motivate and encourage athletes is very important, because we reach a limit or potential to our career and sometimes we need these resources and extra support that would take us to the next level. We need a lot of companies to really support athletes and encourage them to reach the next level because it’s the little details and the smallest things have the biggest effect on our career.
Abroad, private entities and individuals often act as patrons of sports as well as arts, because they have a strong belief that they have the power to change lives. Do you think this mindset is coming to Egypt? How can it be encouraged?
I definitely think that this mindset is coming to Egypt more and more, especially recently because now we have a lot of athletes that have become like sort of influencers, become inspirational, they share stories, people follow them on social media, people follow their achievements and whatever they set their mind into. Sometimes they even give talks to motivate and inspire others, so I think now more and more athletes are using their voice and their platform to help and inspire others to pursue the path they want, and especially in sports. Sport not only gives you medals and achievements, but it gives you a lot more such as a healthy lifestyle and time management skills. You get to know your weaknesses, your strength, how you perform under pressure.
Sports and arts celebrities often give back to communities by raising both funds and awareness of adopted issues. What social causes have you been supporting and how do you feel a sports champion like yourself can change people’s lives?
Social causes related to women or female empowerment are causes I really support and I would do anything to help women reach their potential; so culturally, academically . . . just raising awareness even I feel is very important for the betterment of women in Egypt. Hopefully a lot of athletes will take part in social causes because it will help people in their lives and help encourage and motivate them to follow their dreams and reach their full potential. The more athletes take part, the more we have social awareness and can hopefully change people’s lives.
Taking Mohamed Salah as an example, do you feel sports celebrities can also break stereotypes around the world?
Definitely speaking for myself and other athletes, I feel like the more we compete at the international stage and level, the more people around the world from different countries will start noticing that Egypt has very good athletes. Middle Eastern women are not known for excelling in sports so I think when a lot of female athletes or just Egyptian athletes in general compete more at the international level we raise more awareness that Egypt is capable of having international athletes who compete at the Olympics and at World Cups, whatever the highest stage of competition is in your sport. So by that we would be an example and good role models to break that stereotype that we cannot excel in sports, especially in the Middle East.
Where do you see the Farida Osman brand in the near future and in the long term, 10 years from now?
The FO brand in the near future hopefully will be one of the strongest brands not only in Egypt but in the world. The academy and just being able to use my platform and my name will help me support other people to pursue sports and reach their full potential. In 10 years from now I want to be able to say that the FO brand helped people’s lives, helped people reach their full potential, not only as a swimmer or an athlete but also as a person, as a well-rounded person. I hope I can inspire others to become just as successful as I am.