Saudi women achievers make a pitch for Kingdom’s first female-only golf tournament

Deep diver Mariam Fardous during a photoshoot for the inspirational video series at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
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Updated 11 November 2020

Saudi women achievers make a pitch for Kingdom’s first female-only golf tournament

  • Online series explores the significance of the feats of five different women

JEDDAH: Inspirational Saudis who overcame gender barriers to achieve a string of firsts for women in the Kingdom have reflected on the groundbreaking nature of their feats, in a new video series heralding the country’s first all-female golf tournaments.

Dalma Malhas, Saudi Arabia's first female Olympic medalist, Mariam Fardous, the first Saudi woman to deep dive in the Arctic Ocean, Nelly Attar, founder of Move Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s first dance studio, Maram Al-Butairi, general manager of Eastern Flames, the first Saudi female football team, and DJ Cosmicat, the Kingdom’s first female DJ, came together to share what it means to them to have been a “first woman” in Saudi Arabia.

The initiative was organized by Golf Saudi as a means of illustrating the milestone of next month’s debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — the Kingdom’s first ladies golf tournament, and only the second ever international, women-only professional sports event held in the country.

Fardous — who was only the third woman to deep dive in the Arctic when she took the plunge in 2015 — said: “I believe that everyone should make their own mark in life. This is my one rule. I wanted to make a mark — one mark that could be seen and felt by everyone.

“I hope to be a source of inspiration for women, especially girls who don’t believe that we can achieve the impossible. I imagine that our vision — and the fact we have achieved something — will make girls see that they can overcome anything and achieve their dreams, and that they can think outside of the box in creative ways. We can be poster women for our country,” she added.

 

“These famous golfers who are coming to Saudi Arabia have certainly had their own difficulties, but we can see how they’ve managed to succeed and how they were able to make their own mark in life. They are all great achievers. I’m so excited to learn more about golf here in Saudi Arabia, in my own country, and see these inspirational female athletes compete.”

The five-part video series — which launches Tuesday on the event’s official Twitter and Instagram channels (@saudiladiesintl) — invited each of the five women to share their journey to creating Saudi history.

They each explained what drove them to shatter the glass ceiling above them, and how they saw their achievements inspire other women across the Kingdom, the wider Middle East and the world.

 

Malhas said: “Representing Saudi Arabia at the Youth Olympic Games and winning a bronze medal was a moment that was full of honor, pride and glory — and it definitely changed my life. I think it is very important for young girls to see women achieving their goals and pursuing their dreams. It just raises an awareness that it is now possible for them to do the same.”

The new tournament has been orchestrated by Golf Saudi, who are hoping this will drive more Saudi women to take up golf. As announced last week, the governing body will also make golf free for up to 1,000 women from next month, when they launch their Ladies First Club membership.

Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al-Sorour said: “The Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the PIF, is yet another significant and historic step forward for Saudi Arabia, and is the latest on the same path these five women and thousands more have helped carve throughout the Kingdom in recent years.

“Our two tournaments next month will be only the second and third international, professional women-only sports events to ever be held in our country. We feel that’s something of incredible impact, and in celebrating it, we are highlighting the pioneering Saudi women who have helped make it possible,” he added.

“This unique video series does that, and it is our honor to have these exceptional women encapsulate the ethos of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International — and the excitement around it — in this way.”

The $1 million prize tournament takes place Nov. 12-15 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), and will be followed two days later by the unique format of the Saudi Ladies Team International,  Nov. 17-19, where teams of four players will battle together for a share of $500,000.

Both events will feature more than 100 female European Tour golfers, including Solheim Cup heroes Georgia Hall and Charley Hull, and a host of other top names.


Even in death, Diego Maradona continues to haunt Peter Shilton

Updated 27 November 2020

Even in death, Diego Maradona continues to haunt Peter Shilton

  • While other members of that defeated England team have been gracious, Shilton still protests over that goal
  • Maradona would have won the now historic match, even without the help of his hands

DUBAI: Imagine being Peter Shilton.

It’s May 30, 1979. You have just won the European Cup with Nottingham Forest after beating Malmo 1-0 in Munich. A year earlier you had won the English First Division title. You are on top of the world, to many people the best goalkeeper in the world. A million joyous emotions swirl through your head.

You have the distinct look of a man who has no inclination that in exactly seven years and 23 days, you’ll suffer an almighty indignity, or two, that will define your existence.

Only two days after Forest’s triumph, an 18-year-old who will orchestrate your future humiliation is giving Scotland the run-around at Hampden Park, capping a devastating display of dribbling skills with a goal as Argentina beat the hosts 3-1. Keep an eye on that Diego Maradona, he could go far in this game.

It’s May 13, 1980, and you’re Peter Shilton.

You’re watching England beat Argentina 3-1 at Wembley in another friendly match. In the first half, the now 19-year-old Argentinian announces himself to a new audience in a way that would become very familiar to England defenders in the coming years. 

Receiving the ball in midfield, in one movement he pivots and then proceeds to cut his way through the home defense. One by one, Phil Thompson, Phil Neal and Kenny Sansom are left in a shambolic heap. Faced with the great Ray Clemence in goal, he clips the ball agonizingly wide of the far post. But do keep an eye on this Maradona kid. 

But if you’re Peter Shilton, you have more important things on your mind. Like retaining the European Cup with Nottingham Forest two weeks later by beating Hamburg 1-0 at the Bernabeu. You’re not to know it, but your career has peaked. Still, your place in history is assured, you can sleep sound in that knowledge. At least for six years.

Your career trajectory and that of Maradona are about to diverge dramatically. There will be no more league titles and European Cups for you. Maradona leaves Boca Juniors for Barcelona and Napoli to conquer the world. But fear not, your paths shall cross.

June 22, 1986. The Azteca Stadium, Mexico City. You’re Peter Shilton, you’re 36, and you’re stepping out for arguably the biggest match of your career; England v Argentina in the World Cup quarter-final.

Ninety minutes go by in a blur. The final whistle goes and it feels like you’ve just lived through a nightmare.

Maradona goes on to become world champion a week later, and you go on to be haunted by bitterness for the rest of your life

Ali Khaled

There are vague memories of being outjumped in a basketball-style tip-off by a man 18 cm shorter than you. The Hand of God may have been at play, but where was the hand of Shilton?

You barely had time to recover from going 1-0 down before a familiar scene plays out in front of you. That short Argentinian is at it again, this time reenacting his dance through the English defense in 1980. Here, it’s Glenn Hoddle, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher and Terry Fenwick performing the guard of honor. What Clemence saw at Wembley, you see now.

But by this time Diego Maradona is the greatest player the world has ever seen. In the middle of the greatest individual and tournament performance the World Cup will ever witness. There will be no repeat of Wembley’s profligacy. 

A little feint and you’re on the seat of your pants, resigned to your fate. A tap in and Maradona has just scored the greatest goal of all time, but only the second most famous of the previous five minutes.

In that moment you are the Salieri to his Mozart; the George Foreman to his Muhammad Ali; the Wile E. Coyote to his Road Runner.

At full time, a gracious Gary Lineker, who had threatened to wipe out the two-goal deficit but only managed to halve it, embraces Maradona. The Englishman’s face betrays an admiration, the Argentine’s an exhausted joy. They become life-long friends.

Maradona goes on to become world champion a week later, and you go on to be haunted by bitterness for the rest of your life.

Now it’s July 4, 1990. Imagine being Peter Shilton and it’s the World Cup semi-final against West Germany. Within reach, though probably not yours, is a final against Argentina and the chance to avenge the indignity of four years earlier.

But now you are 40 and a shadow of the goalkeeper you used to be. You’ve already lost another battle with gravity, the ball sailing over your head from Andreas Brehme’s deflected free-kick. Not for the first time, Lineker saves the day with an equalizer, and the match goes to penalties.

You guess the right way for every single penalty the Germans take and yet your seemingly shrinking arms get nowhere near the ball for any of them. 

England are out, and your hopes of revenge are dashed forever.

Imagine you're Peter Shilton in the twilight of your career and in retirement. To you, Maradona is forever a “cheat”. To Maradona, you’re a mere footballing midget, worthy of a single mention in his autobiography, and only to call you a “thermos head”, a colloquial Argentinian jibe for someone who is considered “stupid.” Maradona 3, Shilton 0. 

Now imagine being Peter Shilton on Nov. 25, 2020. You’ve just heard that the man responsible for your career-defining moment has passed away due to a heart attack at 60. Plastered all over the risible tabloid media’s front pages is the moment of your greatest humiliation. What do you do?

As the world grieved, you had the choice to be magnanimous, belatedly generous in praise of a fallen great. For once, to be the bigger, if not necessarily the highest-jumping, man. To be like Lineker, who on the BBC gave an eloquent and heart-wrenching tribute to his departed friend. Or to simply stay quiet.

But that is not the Shilton way. And the English media knew exactly who to call on for one final rant, one final accusation of cheating. To the surprise of no one, you answered the call.

From beyond the grave, Diego Maradona has humiliated you one last time. Just imagine being Peter Shilton.