Saudi Arabia will stage a women’s squash tournament later this year with world champion Nour El Sherbini and eight-time world title winner Nicol David appearing in a rare public airing for women’s sport in the kingdom.
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) said the PSA Women´s Masters will be staged at Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh from October 29 to November 2.
“Following recent initiatives from the General Authority of Sports in Saudi Arabia to increase sporting participation and awareness across the country, the $165,000 tournament will play a crucial role in inspiring a new generation of Saudis to become active within sport,” said a PSA statement.
PSA Chairman and Saudi businessman Ziad Al-Turki said he hoped the event would encourage more women to take up squash.
“I´m hoping that this tournament will increase local participation in Saudi Arabia, and I look forward to working with all parties involved throughout the next six months insuring continued success for years to come.”
Saudi authorities have often come under fire from rights groups for their approach to women in sport as well as in everyday society.
Only four women featured in the Rio Olympics in 2016 for the Saudis after two were named in the team for London in 2012, the first time the Gulf nation had sent female athletes to the Games.
Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, under secretary president of the Women´s Department of the General Authority for Sport in Saudi Arabia, added: “We look forward to growing the female participation of the sport of squash. It is a dynamic game that involves fast thinking and fast reaction times, skills that are well reflected in the women of Saudi Arabia.”
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