Two years ago, Saudi Arabia made a landmark announcement that women would be able to attend sporting events in the country’s numerous public stadiums, a first in the nation’s history. Since then, and in a relatively short period of time, the atmosphere has completely transformed in Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom’s women have been breaking into the sporting field like never before. The wave of reforms and focus placed on integrating women into sports, paired with changing societal views, has seen more and more Saudi women showing off their skills in all sports, from basketball, to martial arts, to even bowling.
This week, Saudi women have awed the nation once again, this time in football at the 2019 Global Goals World Cup (GGWCup), where they walked home with the second-place title. The team, known as the Greens and created as an initiative overseen by the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA), played during the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, qualifying for the New York leg of the event, as reported by Saudi Gazette.
The news site also reported that Princess Reema Bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador to the United States, showed her support for the team by participating in a panel discussion organized by the GGWCup on the role of sport in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SGD) No. 5. Beyond this inspiring performance by an all-female Saudi football team, the Kingdom is also planning to host the 2020 GGWCup, in an ultimate attempt to raise awareness of the SDGs, as well as highlight how sports can act as a tool for social and economic progress in the country.
According to the GGWCup’s official website, the tournament was launched in 2016 and was created to “inspire amateur athletes to become world champions of the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals and drive progress and change in their communities […] an alternative 5v5 global football tournament for women with alternative ideas to help people and planet to flourish […] The all-women teams qualify to play by advocating for one Goal and showcase concrete ideas and examples on how they will undertake the action and achieve impact.”
SDGs are 17 global goals the world’s nations have committed to achieving by 2030. In order to reach these goals, countries have to accomplish 169 targets that cover social, environmental, and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment, and social justice.