Female participation in sports up 150% in Saudi Arabia

Over the last five years, the amount of women in sports in Saudi Arabia more than doubled. This is imputed to the Vision 2030 program, which is paving the way for female involvement in sporting activities.

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São Paulo – Female participation in sports increased by nearly 150% over the past five years in Saudi Arabia, its Ministry of Sports said, in the wake of the Vision 2030 program, which has created opportunities for women to engage in sporting activities.

The Vision 2030’s Quality of Life program has seen the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) work to increase weekly participation in sports by up to 40% by 2030, introducing a more inclusive sporting environment and encouraging girls and women to take up sports.

“Championing a healthy and active community means that we help to provide all members of Saudi society with access to high-quality opportunities to discover their love of fitness,” SFA president Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal told Arab News.

According to Talal, the SFA is en route to meeting the Vision 2030 goal of getting women to engage in physical activity.

February saw the SFA launch the country’s first-ever Women’s Football League (WFL). SFA special projects manager Rawh Abdullah Alarfaj said that “Having a women’s football league is a huge boost for female football. We have been playing football, forming leagues and training since 2007, without any tangible support.”

Football is the most popular sport in the Arab world, and Saudi Arabia is not an exception. The WFL includes women aged 17 and older.

Its launch came in the wake of the creation of SFA-Saudi Greens, in 2018, under SFA supervision. The new team finished second in the UN Global Goals World Cup 2019 (GGWCP). It was the first Saudi women’s team ever to join an international event.

“It was an awesome experience in terms of learning how to connect our passion for sport with goals that affect our society, country and the world. Being part of the first team to compete internationally was an honor and a dream come true,” coach Maram Adel Albutairi told Arab News.

The SFA’s “Your Home, Your Gym” campaign is encouraging people to stay active throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Leading names in sports have been recruited as ambassadors for the campaign.

Last June saw the SFA host the first Saudi Women’s Fitness Festival (WFF), “a three-day virtual event with sessions on nutrition, fitness, virtual workouts and thought leadership discussions,” Arab News reported.

Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

Omar Salem/AFP

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