The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made history this weekend as the first ever female muaythai seminar was held in the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee Sports Complex in Riyadh. The seminar was organised by the Olympic Committee of Saudi Arabia in conjunction with IFMA, the world governing body for the art and sport of Muaythai, recognised by the International Olympic Committee.
The Chair of the IFMA Athletes’ Commission, Ms. Janice Lyn, conducted this two-day seminar with 20 female athletes in attendance from various regions of Saudi Arabia and also from various countries of origin like Morocco and Tunisia.
The IFMA Athletes’ Commission Chair was very impressed by the attendance and enthusiasm for this first female seminar in Saudi Arabia. “The skill level of the females ranged from beginner to competitive athlete but regardless of the skill level, the passion and determination to learn and to try even advanced moves for the beginners was very impressive. These women know what they want.”
This seminar could not have come at a better time. Over the past two years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has experienced a new change in society, making it more socially acceptable for male and female to work together and meet in public. Restrictions on driving bans for women were lifted in 2017 and just last year, changes in regulation now make it possible for women to travel abroad independently.
Janice stated, “In the NOC Sports Complex that we were practicing in, there was a basketball tournament happening. One of the girls pointed out that there was a male coach actively coaching the female team in admiration. I later found out that the team’s head coach was a female and the athlete that I spoke to had very deep respect for her. Thus, I believe it is truly about having the freedom of choice to choose the coach best suited for the individual regardless male or female. Now more than ever I think it is healthy to provide more avenues where sport can aid in supporting ones freedom and right to gain individuality confidently. Muaythai’s teachings of the 5 pillars of respect, honour, tradition, excellence and fair play highlight this and with Saudi Arabia’s new Muaythai leadership through the direction of the President of the NOC, HRH Price Abdulazis, we will see a big changes in parallel to the current changes in society, providing equal opportunities for women to pursue athletic ambitions in muaythai.