The Washington Post‘s Saudi correspondent, Faiza Saleh Ambah, has a great article about how some Saudi women are pushing the social limitation on women’s participation in sports. She writes about Jeddah United, a private sports club with over 100 members who believe that sports can and should be a normal part of any woman’s life. Faced with opposition from religious conservatives who see women’s sports as ‘decadent’, the group continues and aspires to competing in the Olympics sometime in the near future.
The article is definitely worth reading for an expression of at least some Saudi women’s attitudes toward health and their society. The article also links to a 1:45 minute video clip of some members practicing lay-ups!
A Drive Toward the Goal Of Greater Freedom
Basketball Team Resists Saudi Restrictions on Female Athletes
Faiza Saleh Ambah
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The Jeddah United women’s basketball team trickled onto the court, each player wrapped in a black abaya and head scarf. Within minutes, the women had shed their cloaks and were in uniform — white pants and jerseys with their names in red — practicing layups, passes and foul shots until they were wet with sweat.
The team, made up mostly of Saudi students and housewives, is preparing for a local tournament this month. But what the women would really love to do, many said, is compete internationally and represent their country abroad, something Saudi Arabia does not permit.