JEDDAH: The focus was on women in sport at the eighth annual Universities Sports Tournament at Dar Al-Hekma University.
The university, a pioneering institution in the field of competitive sports for women, launched the all-female event in 2010 to encourage participation in sport and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, serving the country’s vision 2030 project.
The tournament aims to promote healthy competition and forge relationships between the students from across the Kingdom, and to showcase the benefits of physical activity in building a physically and mentally fit generation who are able to better serve their communities
The sports included in this year’s two-day event, on February 27 and 28, were basketball, badminton, table tennis, running and soccer.
In addition to the hosts, all but one of the universities taking part are based in Jeddah: King AbdulAziz university, Effat University, University of Business and Technology, Batterjee Medical College, Ibn Sina National College for Medical Studies, and Jeddah University. They were joined by competitors from Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) in Riyadh, the first time an institution outside of Jeddah has taken part.
“Sport is an integral part of student life,” said Dr. Sanaa Askool, Dar Al-Hekma’s dean of student affairs. It is really important to create a healthy community for students. Sport teaches you how to be a good leader and teaches you a lot about team spirit. It also it teaches you about loyalty to your team.”
Asmaa Al-Shareef, captain of the PNU basketball team, which finished in third place, said: “We would like to share our happiness of competing in this championship. We are so proud, and grateful to Dar Al-Hekma University as this tournament is our first outside of Riyadh. We are proud to represent Riyadh city.
“It is really pleasing to us to see how women’s sports are developing in Saudi Arabia according to vision 2030, bringing a lot of changes.”
Tahani Banajah, a freshman studying law at Dar Al-Hekma University, won the running race and finished third in the swimming.
“Since I started at Dar Al-Hekma I have experienced so many things,” she said.
Razan Al-Najjar, an architecture student and winner of the badminton contest, said: “My favorite sport is basketball I started to play seriously about a year and a half ago. This was my first time participating in a real competition, in badminton, surprisingly, and I won the third place. The game was really intense.”
The women’s sports sector in Saudi Arabia has been undergoing unprecedented restructuring and development recently, including the appointment of Saudi women to positions in sports, opening up to them entry to events in sports stadiums, and allowing them to take part in sports activities for the first time.
Dar Al-Hekma University is a private, non-profit institution of higher education for women in Jeddah. Classes are taught in English. The University opened in September 1999 with the approval of the Saudi Ministry of Education.