RIYADH: Family activity days in the Kingdom attracted 314,000 people last year, the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) said.
The events took place in seven cities — Madinah, Tabuk, Alkhobar, Abha, Taif, Hail, and Khamis Mushait — and were aimed at promoting family sports and engagement.
Children and young people were given cards that allowed them to collect stamps, with the ultimate goal of collecting rewards after completing all 40 experiences on offer.
Activities included judo, archery, tennis, fencing, athletics, and cycling. They were structured to appeal to a broad range of interests, abilities and skill levels, with community sports groups helping to engage families and introduce them to onsite activities.
“The recreational aspect of these events directly contributes to the continued success and ever-growing popularity of Family Activity Days,” said the SFA’s managing director, Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini. “Our vision is to promote a healthy and active Saudi society that values the joy of movement paired with social connection, and we are committed to providing a wide range of sporting programs across the Kingdom for all ages that feed these connected motivators. The ideal case scenario was that children and young adults would be attracted to the new activities and experiences that they had tried onsite, and with the help of the community sports groups, potentially turn these early interests into long-term and sustainable fitness engagements.”
The events also helped sports federations to identify potential athletes through their participation in the family activity days, with the goal of channeling their talent into future programs. More than 29,000 people registered to receive updates about particular activities and sports.
The SFA’s Family Activity Days were launched in 2017.
“Family sport programs are the best way to cultivate a healthy society and we have plans to increase the number of the participants in SFA programs to more than one million by 2022,” Al-Husseini said. The SFA was looking for more involvement from community sports groups and volunteers to develop and support the Kingdom’s sports scene in the future.
The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan wants to boost weekly levels of physical activity to 40 percent in the next decade, from 13 percent.
“A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an essential mainstay of a high quality of life. Yet opportunities for the regular practice of sports have often been limited. This will change. We intend to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities, working in partnership with the private sector to establish additional dedicated facilities and programs,” according to the plan.
Al-Husseini said it was important to attract the private sector to the Kingdom’s health and wellness industries to “enrich” sporting experiences for Saudis, as well as to help the SFA to progress.