For years, women in Saudi Arabia have been struggling to play sports, but it looks like change is just around the corner.
The kingdom is set to host its first-ever official basketball tournament for women this upcoming Saturday, Gulf News reported.
Sponsored by the General Sports Authority and the Ministry of Health, the tournament will be held at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
The historic tournament will bring together teams from Jeddah United, Dar Al Hekma University, University of Business and Technology, DFAC, Braves, and Shoot for a Cause to raise awareness on breast cancer.
Women and children can watch the games by purchasing tickets that sell at SR100 ($27).
Speaking to Saudi daily Okaz, Shura Council member and founder of Jeddah's first private female basketball club, Leena Al Maeena, said the revenues of the tournament will be donated to breast cancer awareness campaigns and used to open clinics that facilitate early detection.
"We are grateful for the approval of such women's sports championships," Al Maeena said, according to Gulf News.
"I hope such tournaments will continue and I am confident that this one will be successful, as the strongest women's basketball clubs in Jeddah will be playing."
"Don't miss this chance, girls!"
According to Eurosport Arabia, women's basketball lacks the proper infrastructure. Additionally, female players and female referees in the Saudi basketball federation are scarce.
Competitive sports are generally prohibited for women in the kingdom, as they are not allowed to participate in state-organized sports leagues nor in national tournaments.
Whether the kingdom will officially lift the ban remains to be seen.
Earlier this month, Iqbal Dandari, a member of the Committee for Human Rights at the Shoura Council requested the establishment of professional sports clubs for women.
She has been pushing for professional women's football teams, urging major Saudi football clubs such as Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahli to set up teams for female players.
Saudi women are slowly making their way into the sports world
While official sports competitions have long been exclusive to males, the kingdom has recently introduced several positive reforms.
Earlier this year, the General Authority of Sports announced plans to start granting licenses to women's gyms and open female-only fitness centers in every district.
In July, Minister of Education Ahmad al-Issa issued a decree that introduced an all-new physical education program for girls' schools.
Last month, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan became the kingdom's first-ever female president of a sports federation after she was as appointed as President of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports.
Soon after, the Saudi General Sports Authority announced it will allow women to attend sporting events in stadiums starting next year.