Just following Saudi Arabia's first women's basketball tournament, the kingdom will host its first-ever women's football tournament.
Six women's teams will kick off the series on Wednesday, according to Saudi Gazette. The event will take place at a private school in Jeddah, in a bid to enhance the women's skills and gain formal recognition from the kingdom's General Sports Authority.
"We look forward to realizing our dream to represent the kingdom in tournaments abroad. We feel that it is now nearer than before thanks to the support granted to sports in Saudi Arabia," Reema Al Abdullah, player and coach with King’s United, told Gulf News.
Difficulties face female Saudi athletes
Although the tournament is moving forward, the event hasn't come without challenges.
Women's football teams in the kingdom are generally self-funded, meaning women must either pay for their own training or find financial support on their own. For games, women's teams must also rent stadiums themselves.
In addition to costs, Al Abdullah pointed out that Saudi women are unable to access the training needed to develop their skills, as is the case in other Gulf nations.
"The comparison with other GCC countries is defavourable as Saudi female players do not even possess basic skills whereas expert and specialised women, including coaches, technicians and medics, oversee the women’s teams in other Gulf countries [sic]," she said.
But the women remain hopeful that rapid reforms in the kingdom will also lead to greater support for their sporting endeavors.
Last Saturday, a historic women's basketball tournament brought 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.
"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," Shura Council member and founder of Jeddah's first private female basketball club Leena Al Maeena said prior to the event.
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.
Women are making massive strides in the kingdom
With sporting events for Saudi women moving forward, things are definitely looking up for female athletes.
Although many continue to criticize the country for being decades behind many other nations when it comes to women's rights, it's important to note that things have been changing rapidly.
A royal decree passed in September lifted a ban on women driving. The order mandates the creation of a ministerial body to give advice on the practicalities of the decision and a full implementation by June 2018.
Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has also amended a number of laws in an effort to empower women.
These include opening municipal elections to female candidates and making women's verbal consent to marriage mandatory. Additionally, the Saudi Shura Council announced an amendment to laws governing travel documents. If passed, said amendment would give women the right to obtain a passport without male permission.
The male guardianship system has also been seen as a hindrance to women's progress, but a royal decree from King Salman in May suggested that the patriarchal systems' days are numbered. And Saudi women have already made significant gains.
When it comes to athletics, Saudi women stole headlines at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Four female Saudi athletes attended the international games, following in the footsteps of two bold Saudi women who participated in the London 2012 games.
If recent reforms and the new tournaments are any sign, perhaps a female Saudi football team will be heading to the next Olympics, or even competing in the Women's World Cup in the not-so-distant future.