Future of sport in Saudi Arabia ‘depends on the public’

Future of sport in Saudi Arabia ‘depends on the public’

JEDDAH: The development of sport in the Kingdom requires a sustainable ecosystem that includes private-sector participation and the support of the population at large, said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, deputy chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA).

The prince was speaking during an event at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club at King Abdullah Economic City on Sunday.

The key discussion on harnessing the power of sports in the Kingdom was held as part of the opening celebration of the Royal Greens club.

In a wide-ranging conversation, moderated by CNN anchor Becky Anderson, panelists including Princess Reema bin Bandar, president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports; Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Maritime Sports and Diving Federation; and Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.

They were joined by world champion golfer Ernie Els and European Tour CEO Keith Pelley.

Prince Abdul Aziz praised the leaders of the federations for expanding the role of sport in Saudi Arabia.

Princess Reema said that the GSA plays an essential role not only encouraging people to have fun in sport but also to improving levels of health and well-being in the nation.

She encouraged the private sector to invest not just in new sports facilities but also in training academies, human capital development and other elements of the sporting ecosystem.

The forum also discussed the role of the private sector in developing sport in the Kingdom and agreed that while it has historically played an important role at a professional level, more could be done at a grassroots level to encourage people to take up a sport.

Prince Abdul Aziz said: “Vision 2030 is about catching up. We do not want to be caught out. This is why we have unlimited support from the king and the crown prince to move forward.”

The prince told Arab News: “We are aware of risks in terms of the spending on these federations. We do not recognize it as a loss. In my career in car racing, I raced under Bahrain’s flag. We want to have an umbrella for all sports so they can be played under the Saudi flag.”

Princes Reema said: “It is not only the actual games that we care about; we care about the tools sold, the shops around the playground and all other cultural and economical factors related to them.”

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