Appointment of princess set to spark a change in female sport participation and lead to knock-on effect in society

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Princess Reema bint Bandar, the president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, is hoping to bring about change.
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Saudi girls warm up for football
Updated 22 October 2017
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Appointment of princess set to spark a change in female sport participation and lead to knock-on effect in society

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s appointment of its first female head of sports should attract more women into gyms and on to sports pitches in a nation where women are not allowed to exercise with men, female sports organisers said last week.
US-raised Princess Reema bint Bandar last week became the first female president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports that manages sports-related activities for both men and women in the Kingdom, local media reported.
Her appointment came amid a series of changes for women in Saudi Arabia hailed as a new progressive trend including giving women the right to drive and encouraging more women to work.
But a guardianship system, under which a male family member must grant permission for a woman to study, travel and other activities, remains in place.
Lina Al Maeena, who formed Jeddah United, Saudi Arabia’s first private female basketball club, in 2003, said the princess’ appointment was significant.
“It’s going to be changing stereotypes because of her appointment in that role as the head of both genders,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Jeddah.
Female participation in sports has long been a controversial issue in Saudi where women cannot exercise with men and there are no public sports facilities for women as many conservative Muslim clerics consider sport for females as immodest.
Saudi Arabia did not send any women to the Olympic Games until 2012.
Susan Turner, chief executive of NuYu, the kingdom’s first chain of female fitness centres, said bint Bandar’s appointment would bring women’s health to the “forefront”.
“It’s everybody’s right to have access to these facilities and to look after their health ... women are realising that if they are not doing (exercise) already it is just bringing those statistics and facts to light,” said Turner.
According to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan, only 13 percent of the Saudi population exercises at least once a week. The plan aims to boost that number to 40 percent.
Bint Bandar — daughter of a former Saudi ambassador to Washington — championed the licensing of female-only gyms and sports clubs in her previous role leading the women’s section of the national General Sports Authority.
Turner said she hoped in addition to getting more women into sports her own business would benefit.
“For us to be able to grow more clubs and that we can get licences and knowing that somebody very confident and very capable is in charge of sports — it just gives us a huge amount of confidence,” Turner said by phone from Riyadh.
Al Maeena, who is also a member of the advisory Shura Council, said having a woman in the role would have a knock-on effect across Saudi society.
“I see a lot of business opportunities, a lot of women empowerment,” she said.


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 21 April 2018
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Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.