Sidonio Serpa* and Glyn Roberts**
*CIDEFES, Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon, Portugal
**Norwegian University of Sport Science. Oslo, Norway
Professor Mohamed Allawy was born in Port Said, Egypt, on April, 3, 1931, and had a long and illustrious career. He may be considered the father of sport psychology in Egypt and has been influential throughout the Arab countries. He also contributed to international sport psychology as he served on the ISSP Managing Council for three terms, from 1977 to 1989. He was first elected to the Managing Council (MC) of ISSP in 1977 and served two terms as member at large to 1985. In 1985 he was elected to be Vice President and served until 1989. Professor Allawy was the first African representative and the first representative from an Arab country in the ISSP-MC.
Professor Mohamed Allawy received his PhD in 1964 from the influential Deutsche Hochschule fuer Koerperkultur – DHfK, in Leipzig, which was part of the then German Democratic Republic – GDR. (Salmela, 1992). At that time, Leipzig was the most important center for sport sciences in GDR and one of the main centers of sport psychology in the World. After returning to Egypt, he took a position at the Helwan University, Cairo, in 1965, to start his career in the field of sport psychology and developed an influential programme in sport psychology. In that same year, the programme included three sport psychology courses in its Physical Education curriculum, covering the topics general psychology and physical education, developmental psychology, motor learning, personality, mental health, application and guidance. In 1965, he introduced a three-year master’s course in sport psychology, and in 1973, a PhD program with a specialization in sport psychology that involved three to four years of work.
The course was remarkable in that male and female students studied together despite there being two different gender sections of the University of Helwan for physical education. The University of Helwan in Cairo became the main center of sport psychology in Egypt. In addition, through his former students, his work had great influence in the development of sport psychology in Middle East and Arab countries in North Africa. A second area of impact of Professor Allawy was in the field of sport coaching. He developed sport psychology courses for top level coaches that proved to be very successful (Salmela, 1992)
As a researcher, Professor Allawy’s main research fields were anxiety, aggression, personality, self-concept and attitudes. He published research articles in international scientific journals, although most of his publications were in Arabian. He also integrated the research findings from the work he developed with his students in many books that became popular and used in several Arab countries. He published 27 books, fifteen of which were singled authored books, and most of them had several editions. Another main achievement of Professor Mohamed Allawy was the foundation of the Egyptian Society for Sport Psychology (ESSP) whose 50th Anniversary was commemorated during the 17th International Scientific Conference under the theme “The Golden Jubilee of Sport Psychology in Egypt and Arab Countries” that was held in Cairo in November, 17-21, 2016. Members of ISSP and FEPSAC were represented, and a special session to honour the accomplishments of professor Allawy’s career took place
Professor Allawy also contributed to the administration of Helwan University and the profession at large. He was Dean of the faculty of Physical Education, President of the Egyptian Society of Sport Psychology, General Secretary of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, President of the Weightlifting Federation, Chairman of the Gezira Youth Centre Directors Board, Member of the Higher Advisory Committee of the Ministry Youth and Sports. In recognition of his remarkable accomplishments, professor Mohamed Allawy was awarded the Egyptian State Order of Sports, First Class.
The above gives testimony to the professional accomplishments of Professor Allawy, but says little about the man. Mohamed was a warm, sociable, and extremely likeable person. In sessions of the MC, for example, he was very professional, but in social situations, he was warm, gracious, and took new members under his wing. But he had a mischievous sense of humour and to those of us on the MC those days, we were often regaled by his wit and the comedy routine of Mohamed and Atushi Fujita of Japan. Mohamed would pretend to translate the Japanese of Atushi for the rest of us. They both had fun doing it. He embraced life, he will be missed.
Professor Mohamed Allawy died in Cairo, on January, 20, 2021.
Salmela, J.H. (1992). The World sport psychology sourcebook. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
The authors would like to thank Anne-Marie Elbe and Nader Tawfik for their help in the production of this obituary.