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Sports : the year everything changed in Saudi Arabia

Opinion - Nada Abualnaja

I started playing squash for fun in a local club in Jeddah in 2008 because I wanted to lose weight.

The first time I set foot on the court was in a match with my personal fitness trainer in the club in Jeddah (shout out to Ms. Sahar Tehrani). She urged me to play squash as a cardiovascular workout. Ever since, I started to play with a group of ladies who used to play squash in the same club I used to go to for fun, without actual squash coaching, as no coaches were available. Our technique was wrong but we enjoyed the games nonetheless.

In 2012 I travelled to Grenoble, in the  South-East of France, to obtain my masters degree in marketing. I met some brilliant squash players and coaches. So I decided to learn the correct technique and movement for squash.

After coming back from France in 2014, my level improved a lot, but I was faced with the issue that we still didn’t have professional squash coaches available anywhere, so I kept practicing solo for 4 years.

Sport is important in your daily life

If you love a sport you need to know it will take hours of strenuous serious work and you won’t achieve any titles easily. Work extra hard for what you love and the efforts will pay off eventually.

From my experience and journey in fitness over the years, I found that squash gave me the motivation I needed to keep going to the gym. There are always areas to improve ( whether in strength, stamina or agility), so the workout never gets boring. Unlike people motivated with just the physical appearance, choosing to participate in a sport (whether squash or any other) will keep individuals focused on their goals.

I believe that any sport practiced by young ladies is essential for a healthy character inside and outside. Being an active athlete (at any age) will build confidence and will inspire a disciplined lifestyle, and the earlier practiced the better.

Watching the younger generation, including a sport to their daily routine is crucial to help them overcome major obstacles in life later, as it will encourage them to be healthy. I feel sad when I see obese children who are not able to run with their peers because of excess weight and unhealthy lifestyle.

Nada Abualnaja

Nada Abualnaja

2017, a historical year in Saudi Arabia

2017 was a year where historical decisions were made in Saudi Arabia. We are witnessing major reforms and changes manifested in the recent royal decrees. For the first time this year families are able to go to stadiums and attend football matches. Moreover, we can see  a very  the positive image portrayed by women in all sports fields in Saudi Arabia (from crossfit, karate, boxing, cycling). We are feeling more empowered than ever and see the sky as the limit now.

The next step would be Implementing a major reform plan to include PE as an essential part from school years, granting sponsorships to the talented players across the diverse sport fields.

I had the chance to take part to the Professional Squash Association (PSA). Being chosen as the wildcard and having the chance to meet the top 32 players in the world was a magnificent experience. The tournament organized in Riyadh, where I got to play with Ms.Camille Serme, only made me want to improve my game and participate in more tournaments in the future. We are very confident and hoping for more major events and tournaments to take place in our country for both genders.

Her Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar efforts to drive change, along with the Chairman of the PSA Mr. Ziad al Turki made this tournament possible. For the first time ever, an all female event of that scale took place in the capital of Saudi Arabia. Now, we can only expect more exciting tournaments  to take place in our country in the future.