Just one week after Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry announced the introduction of physical education classes in public schools, the Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz University (PMAU) hosted the first female sports camp in Medina from July 31 through August 15
Open to girls and boys from five to 15-years-old— with additional programming for teenage girls 16 and older— the two-week camp offered various activities including taekwondo, fitness sessions, and football and basketball tournaments. PMAU has supported women’s sports since the university’s launch three years ago, and strives to prepare its students to qualify for the Kingdom’s national women’s sporting tournaments.
To date, PMAU has invested in infrastructure and capabilities to expand sports access for all students. The school’s integrated sports facilities can accommodate over 100 spectators, the gym features state of the art equipment, and the university has recruited internationally certified sports coaches.
A Harbinger of Change
PMAU’s emphasis on athletics comes on the heels of increased interest in sports across the Kingdom. Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s dynamic economic and social development program, aims to create ”a vibrant society with fulfilling lives” through, amongst other things, “the promotion of physical and social wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.” Access to women’s athletics have expanded in recent years with the government first formally allowing girls’ sports in private schools four years ago.
In 2016, the Saudi Council of Ministers announced the appointment of Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, as head of the new Department for Women’s Affairs at the General Authority for Sports. This development signaled a major step in promoting and institutionalizing greater female access to sports in the Kingdom. With efforts to increase women’s participation in all sectors, and investment into expanding e sporting activities and sports facilities at the community and national levels, Saudi Arabia is poised to see more and more sporting camps for boys and girls, dedicated women’s gyms and female athletes at the collegiate level and on the Olympic stage.
Read more at Arab News.