Many are aware of the significance of a league game that took place this past Friday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. While the game itself was not of gargantuan proportions, the story and the hype leading up to it was. One of Saudi’s top four – Al Ahli were hosting football minnows Al Batin at the King Abdullah Sports City. However, the moment of attraction was the crowd of women supporters who made their way to the stadium to be part of a historic moment.
For the first time, women were allowed to watch a football game in a stadium as part of series of reforms set up by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, aimed at modernizing the ultra-conservative Muslim country.
I was lucky enough to hold a brief chat with Sarah Al Gashgari – an 18-year-old student in her foundation year at the King Abdulaziz University, who was part of the extensive organizing department aimed at assisting women and families and at the center of it all. The basis of my chat was to understand her raw emotions following the momentous occasion. This is what she had to say:
On how she got involved:
“First and foremost I am still a student in the first year of university they advertised they need female organizers for this historic event and I was quick to contact them and they were also quick of their side to reply back!”
Her passion for the game:
“Football has always been a hobby of mine playing and watching I think it suited my passion to organize and my will to contribute to society in what ever way I can.”
Her emotions on that night:
“It was a happiness I could not explain in words I thought finally we no longer have to see it behind the screen we can now go and cheer our teams and feel the excitement and spirit and of course all this is thank to Allah then our kind and crown prince may god protect them
My feelings were joy I was joyful to an extent I could not explain because not only do I get to witness this historic event but I get to organize it.”
As for the future:
“The limit for Saudi women dreams and hopes does not exist and is the future appears to be promising inshallah!”
As the most recent reform is better late than never, the upcoming change in policy (June 2018), which will see women behind the wheels across Saudi Arabia, is expected to shake the world. While some may be against it, kudos to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is attempting to make the Kingdom more moderate and drive it in the right direction.