Categories: Games News

Saudi Games a platform for female athletes to excel

Last weekend, my wife and I, along with several family members, flew to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, from Jeddah to root for our niece, whose women’s basketball club, Jeddah United, managed to secure a place in the final.

The prizes that lay ahead were the gold medals and the glittering prize of one million rials for the winning team.

The Saudi Games 2022 started from October 27 to November 7, 2022, in the city of Riyadh with the main vision of providing a platform for Saudi athletes to reach their best potential and inspire young Saudis through the sport and demonstrate the capabilities of the Kingdom at a global level to host the largest events.

With the participation of more than 6,000 athletes and 2,000 technical and administrative supervisors representing more than 200 clubs throughout the Kingdom, contestants compete in 45 individual and team sports categories. In addition, 5 matches are dedicated to Paralympic sports.

In addition, it is reported that the first-placed clubs will receive SAR 1 million, SAR 350,000 for the second-placed clubs and SAR 100,000 for the third-placed clubs.

The biggest national sporting event

The Games have become the largest national sporting event in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and have attracted a large following across the country.

Our interest in this particular event witnessed the culmination of over 18 years of hard work and perseverance against very formidable odds when my niece decided to take on the challenge and form a women’s sports club during a time when women were expected to be unseen and unheard of.

There were no women’s gyms or clubs back then, and sports were not allowed by law in girls’ schools either! These were the Saudi women’s controls that led to an increase in obesity and related diseases among inactive women and girls.

A quick look back at conditions just a few years ago would bring to mind the relentless attacks on women’s rights by extremists who sought to shape Saudi culture according to their own twisted ideology. It was a time when no working woman was spared his wrath.

They strongly opposed the idea of ​​women being employed in the professional field. Despite the fact that the country needed its cadre of educated women to foster progress, these extremists had been an impediment to women’s progress, invariably using the veiled threat of religion against these women.

There were also some mocking comments about the different types of cloaks (abayas) women use to cover themselves. It would have been easy to give up in the face of such odds, but fortunately my niece persevered and eventually secured the license of the first women’s sports club in the kingdom. His basketball team in the finals of the most important national games in history was definitely something not to be missed.

The game itself was nervy with the score until the last few minutes, but then came the success. Her team won and finally my niece reached the pinnacle of triumph after all the years of hard work and sacrifices.

There are many thanks for being in Saudi Arabia today
Image Credit: Gulf News

Decisive actions of the Kingdom

Suffice it to say that it would not have been dreamed of let alone possible if not for the decisive actions of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, popularly known as MBS, who brought his vision of a progressive future through Vision 2030.

We celebrated late into the night going over every shot and every score. Our euphoria continued the next day on our journey back to Jeddah. The only blemish on this entire trip was having to wait over 25 minutes on the taxiway upon arrival as there was no crew in sight.

Apparently it was a shift change and no one bothered to cover the arrivals. Insult was added to injury when we were put on buses and driven around the extension of the airport for another 20 minutes before entering the terminal.

However, as we loaded into the vehicle to drive home, we couldn’t help but marvel at the rapid changes this country is experiencing, a transformation that could not have been dreamed of just a few years ago. Congratulations to my niece Lina and all those other women who never gave up on their dreams.

Indeed, there is much to be thankful for in Saudi Arabia today.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena


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