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JEDDAH: On June 8, Hanan Al-Qurashi became the first Saudi woman sports club president in the Kingdom’s history after she was appointed head of Taif-based Wej Club by the Ministry of Sport.

Al-Qurashi had previously served as a member of the board of directors at the Wej Club, and she was assigned to handle women’s sports in 2021. In August 2022, she was appointed vice president of the Wej Club.

Speaking to Arab News, Al-Qurashi said: “I am truly honored to be Wej’s president, and would like to thank the Ministry of Sport for putting its faith in me to deliver this enormously important role, for the good of the sport I have loved all my life.”

She added: “This represents an affirmation of confidence in women and an enhancement of their pioneering role in all fields with the support of the leadership in the country that has provided and continues to provide all citizens of the country, men and women, with all support and confidence, in order to accomplish many difficult tasks for this dear country.

“This confidence is ‘a crown on our heads’ as Saudi women, as it confirms that there is no difference between men and women except through work and achievement, which determines the competence and ability to perform the tasks assigned to each of us.”

She called being the first woman in the club’s history to be made chairperson “a good gesture and a breakthrough for all women.”

She said it will be a challenging job, revealing that the club has great ambitions for the future.

“It is a big job, so you’ve got to be brave in a lot of ways, and come out of your comfort zone if you want to create change,” she told Arab News.

When asked about her plan to develop the club in all sports, she said: “My ambition is to work, strive and be up to the responsibility entrusted to us to work on a new path for the club, from where we already started by forming a new council that will be integrated and work together to expand the club’s games in order to be more competitive with other clubs, and achieve the aspirations of the people of Taif.”

Al-Qurashi said that she did face difficulties when first entering the sports field. “I certainly experienced opposition from the family at the beginning, but I saw that the way would one day be paved for women to enter this field, and this is what was achieved so far,” she said.

“In fact, I was keen to learn, train and attend courses, whether in the Kingdom or outside it,” she added.

On the privatization of clubs, she said: “The privatization of clubs, I see it as a good thing for the clubs; it will raise levels a lot. We have generous support. It just needs us to take a serious stand, whether officials or others, to make this vision a success.”

As for the future, Al-Qurashi said she wants to make Wej Club competitive in all sports, especially football, adding: “Our football is playing in the first division and I hope we can see it someday in the Saudi Pro League. I look forward to a successful sporting future for Wej Club in the coming years, with the support of the people of Taif.”

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