JEDDAH: A career in sport has become a reality for Saudi women and girls due to the country’s social reforms and also the grassroot efforts and energy of women seeking out those with the same sporting interest and growing a community around it.
The story of Jeddah volleyball team Blue Clickers started like this — with the passion of the team’s founder and coach Dana Mohsen. She was looking for people with the same interests as her and started building up a squad.
“At a dolphin show, the sound they make while passing the ball is called a click and that is where we derived our name from, Blue Clickers,” she told Arab News. “We have always watched other sports grow with time and we were always waiting for volleyball to come out professionally as a sport.”
Blue Clickers were formed in Dec. 2020, and the Saudi Volleyball Federation launched the Kingdom’s first open volleyball tournament for women last September at Riyadh’s Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University, with Blue Clickers taking part.
There was a competition in Jeddah and in other places, with two teams from each region qualifying for the next round at the tournament.
“Our team was one of the teams that qualified for the next round in Riyadh. We had a great first experience playing against other competitors and we were able to win a trophy dedicated to our clean and honest game,” she said. “We got back from that tournament eager to get better and wanting to reach a high level for volleyball by representing our beloved country as professional players.”
Blue Clickers have played friendly and professional tournaments. They are also looking forward to playing in the Olympics one day.
One of their highlights was getting to play for the Ministry of Sports earlier this year in February.
“Our dream is to have unconditional growth and to reach a professional level of performance. We want to reach a point of becoming an official team under the ministry and always represent Saudi Arabia at national and international opportunities,” said Mohsen.
In Jan. 2021 the sports minister said that female participation in sport in Saudi Arabia had shot up by almost 150 percent since 2015.
Our dream is to have unconditional growth and to reach a professional level of performance. We want to reach a point of becoming an official team under the ministry and always represent Saudi Arabia at national and international opportunities.
Dana Mohsen, Founder and coach Blue Kicker
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said that far-reaching changes as part of Vision 2030, and the influence and sporting achievements of Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, had been major factors in contributing to this growth.
Blue Clickers team member Rawan Al-Amoudi got into volleyball by watching her friends play.
“I used to watch my friends play in college and have always hoped that one day I could join an actual volleyball team and grow more at this sport,” she told Arab News.
Mohsen had sent out a survey asking questions about volleyball and asking if they would be interested in joining a team if one were to be launched.
“I filled out this survey with all my hopes that it was going to happen and it did. After I went to the first tryout for Blue Clickers, I knew this team would be called a family one day,” Al-Amoudi said. “Blue Clickers is now not just my team but it is a place I could call my second home, where each player is considered family.
“We all have the same goal and we all want to reach big. I want to make a difference and reach and compete on international levels while representing my country. My goal is to grow bigger, better, and stronger every day and for my performance to grow unconditionally.”
She said she also wanted to see more Saudi women excel in sports.
“I want to say to other female athletes to always try their hardest to get better and to never give up no matter what the circumstances are.”
Leena Murad, 28, said that volleyball started as a hobby for her.
“I used to watch every volleyball game and now I’m very passionate about it,” Murad told Arab News. “Volleyball is a great sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, as long as you are committed to the game and you have the passion to reach a higher level you will be able to succeed.”
She watched films of matches for at least two hours every week as preparation for a game, writing down three key tactical points for each video session.
“To foster a healthy interaction with teammates, to foster an appreciation of the value of winning, losing, and their related consequences, know more volleyball skills. We can increase intrinsic motivation and self-confidence, and focus on external outcomes and competition results. We need to plan and work each day to achieve success.”
Raneem Ghurab, 28, is passionate about sports in general and got into volleyball by playing it weekly at the beach.
“I knew since then that it is a part of my life, routine, and achievement,” Ghurab told Arab News.
She had previously played in basketball and badminton teams, and her coach referred her to Blue Clickers. Her journey with them began at that point.
She said setting a goal was a strategy that anyone could implement for success in any environment.
“At first it might look easy like entertainment, enjoyment, love, and friendship; but it will be more serious when adding striving to win and how to handle losing.
“Gaining confidence, appreciation, and gratitude — to work as a team as well as an individual. How to take the risk and handle the pressure. Improving health, strength, and flexibility. How to compete and motivate.”
Passing, serving, setting, spiking, blocking, and digging were the six basic volleyball skills that she was working hard on to improve.
“Honestly, playing volleyball teaches you several lessons that apply to life both on and off the court,” she said. “It will help you build character and diligence, unique moves that give you mental, physical, and emotional skills.”