RIYADH: A Saudi basketball team has netted a sporting entente cordiale with the capital’s diplomatic community.
Riyadh United players are to take part in a unique initiative aimed at encouraging more men and women in the Kingdom to participate in sport, while also strengthening international relations.
The new sports project was launched in the city’s Diplomatic Quarter by co-founder of Riyadh United Basketball team Lina Al-Maeena together with the Belgium Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dominique Mineur.
Al-Maeena said the idea behind the scheme was to promote the message of peace and understanding between nations through sport, with regular basketball games between the Saudi diplomatic community and Riyadh teams.
“We believe in the language of sport,” she said. “This initiative allows us to link with the international community in Saudi Arabia while also doing something healthy and beneficial for our minds, bodies, and our country.”
Mineur said: “Sport is essential for the well-being of everyone and I hope that this will generate similar initiatives.”
Al-Maeena hopes that more Saudi women will take up sport and help promote the message of peace.
She pointed to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan as playing a key role in encouraging people to engage in sport. The country aims to increase the population’s sports participation from 13 percent to 40 percent by 2030.
“I believe that this initiative will blossom and flourish in a way we never anticipated,” Al-Maeena added.
The launch was held on the basketball courts at King Faisal School, which has joined in the venture.
Principal of the girls’ school Sadeem Al-Qadi said they were looking forward to playing an active role in the program.
Vision 2030 has already brought about many changes in Saudi culture, including sport for women. Only recently, physical education was reintroduced for girls in Saudi schools after a long absence.