Manama: In another first for Saudi women, Shura Council Member Leena Al Maeena swapped her formal dress and high heels for a shirt and sneakers to help her basketball team in Saudi Arabia’s first tournament for women.
While everyone knew that Leena, a founding member of the Jeddah United basketball team, would attend at the tournament in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, most expected to see her take a place of honour among the spectators.
Shura Council, also known as Majlis Ash-Shura, is the formal advisory body of Saudi Arabia.
However, Leena surprised the crowd of women present at the breakthrough event by sporting her team gear, attacking and defending with the players and scoring points.
Her participation in the tournament as a player was highly appreciated by the spectators who cheered her, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Monday.
Women attending the first women's basketball tournament in Saudi Arabia. — Okaz
“She was more like European politicians in her simplicity,” the newspaper commented.
“There are national leaders and senior officials who find it absolutely normal to exercise and participate in games in front of other people. They know that they are sending positive messages to their people to get involved in sports activities. That is what Leena did as well.”
For Saudis, Leena deserved recognition for her courage to move easily between her professional obligations as a member of the Shura Council and her dedication to promoting women’s health status through sports.
Saudi women take selfies outside a stadium where the first women's basketball tournament was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The tournament, held on Saturday, also aimed to raise funds to spread awareness about the significance of breast cancer early detection.
“The event demonstrated women’s passion for sports and this game undoubtedly gives greater impetus to other events that will increase interest and calls among women to promote the concept of community sports,” Leena said in a statement.