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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s remarkable sporting transformation of recent years is set to continue with the launch of a brand new venture called the Mahd Sports Academy, through support from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The interest of Saudi Twitter users was piqued last week when a new account started to publish videos hinting at a new project, with the Kingdom’s Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal promoting the content from his personal account with a caption: “The time has come.”
The Mahd Sports Academy launched its own account by tweeting: “A lot was lost and the time has come to make up for everything.”
The tweet was followed by a snapshot of a little girl telling the world that her dreams would not be relinquished. A clip of a small boy holding a football was also shared on the social media platform, with the caption: “The time has come to shout your name”. Just a day ago, the same account shared a video of a little girl holding a tennis racket, and finally, one of a boy in the pool.
According to sources with knowledge of the matter, the Mahd Sports Academy will be available to all Saudi children starting from the age of 6, and according to Arab News sources, the academy will be accessible to both genders.
The Kingdom’s Sports Ministry plans to harness talent in Saudi youth from a very early age, under the supervision of highly experienced technical and administrative experts and in accordance with the latest international practices and techniques.
The Mahd Sports Academy, which will be revealed during the coming week, will be one of the largest sports academies in the world, aiming at building a new generation of Saudi sporting champions over the coming years, in major regional, continental and global events.
Through nurturing young Saudi talent and giving it the best opportunity to flourish, the Kingdom hopes to improve on its sporting record in events such as the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games.
Since the launch of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program, the Kingdom has witnessed a remarkable shift in the sporting sector by creating a global professional climate to attract the world's attention, diversifying the economy’s resources and creating a sport-practicing vibrant community.
This shift has seen the Kingdom host major sporting events, such as the Spanish and Italian Super Cups, the Dakar Rally, Formula E and the World Heavyweight Boxing championship.
And hoping to tap into this shift, Prince Abdulaziz has, since his appointment as Minister of Sports in December 2018, worked with the Director General of the Saudi Arabian Leadership Institute, Abdullah bin Faisal Hammad and the Ministry of Education to work with physical education teachers and schoolchildren aged 6 years old and above in discovering and promoting talent in cities across Saudi Arabia.
This is the first step in building future champions. After discovering the talent, they will then work with veteran coaches who will then be recruited for all games, for both genders. Training will begin for these kids in their cities until they reach the age at which they can register in clubs and teams.
The Ministry of Sports has also concluded more than 40 agreements with sports universities, in which Saudi students have been enrolled to obtain important programs and diplomas, such as Real Madrid University, the prestigious Harvard University, and the Dutch University of Johan Cruyff, with the aim of obtaining qualifications that will benefit Saudis over time.
Saudi Arabia is hoping for a sporting boom, which may change the course of sport in the Kingdom a decade from now, with ideal timing that corresponds with Vision 2030’s aim for attracting investment from around the world into new projects such as NEOM, Al Qiddiya, Al-Ula, Red Sea and Downtown Jeddah.
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