Saudi Netball, in collaboration with Sports for All and the Saudi Tourism Authority, has organized the first netball tournament in Saudi Arabia’s history onboard a 4,500-passenger cruise ship that is currently touring the Red Sea for the first time.
Netball is a fast-growing global game played by more than 20 million people in more than 80 countries. The promotion of netball, which is a women-dominated sport, is part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing initiative as part of Vision 2030 to increase women’s involvement in sport as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.
The tournament was held onboard the MSC Bellissima cruise ship which has been running since the end of July. According to MSC Cruises, it is the largest cruise ship to ever set sail in the Red Sea.
The three- and four-night cruises journeys from Jeddah to Egypt’s Safaga Port, are offering passengers the opportunity to explore Luxor, and Aqaba in Jordan, for access to Petra, before returning to the home port in Saudi Arabia.
Chairwoman of Netball Saudi Princess Ghada bint Abdullah al-Saud said that Netball is an ideal sport to introduce across schools in the Kingdom.
“As a game, netball is inviting, accessible, encouraging, fun, and inclusive. Its game rules ensure the equal participation of all players on the court. In netball, everyone contributes equally to the success of the team, regardless of the individual role they play. It is the perfect expression of an inclusive society,” she added.
Netball Saudi is one of sixteen sports federations and committees announced by the Saudi Olympic Committee in May 2021, as part of the Committee’s effort to widen the range of sports offered and the number of sporting communities in Saudi.
The three-round tournament was played by two teams with a total number of sixteen players ranging from thirteen to twenty-three years old and been practicing Netball in the Riyadh-based Golden Sports Academy.
The tournament is a joint sports-tourism initiative showcasing Saudi’s continued progress toward building a vibrant society, a core pillar of the Vision 2030 plan led by the Crown Prince.
Sports tourism, which includes traveling either to watch or to participate in a sporting event, is one of the fastest-growing areas of the global tourism sector. Sport-related travel creates direct economic value across a wide range of supporting sectors, including entertainment, transportation, and hospitality. This supports a relative proportion of jobs, wages, taxes, and GDP within each sector.
Chairman of the Sports for All Federation Prince Khalid bin al-Waleed al-Saud said that inclusion, the diversification of sports, and accessibility to sporting activities are three key objectives that drive their efforts to develop the sport across Saudi’s communities.
“Netball stands out as a sport that delivers on all those three objectives. The Sports for All Federation sees a sizeable opportunity to support the development of netball in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), launched in June 2020, is responsible for marketing Saudi Arabia’s tourism destinations worldwide and developing the Kingdom’s offering through programs, packages and business support. Its mandate ranges from developing the country’s unique assets and destinations, through to hosting and participating in industry events, and promoting Saudi Arabia’s tourism brand locally and overseas.