Encouraging (and edited) excerpt from an online article:

"Women’s rights in the Arab world have come far in recent years, other players said, but many basic freedoms, like the right to drive cars or make major decisions independent of their male guardians, remain elusive.

On the front lines of breaking traditions that quash women’s voices are growing numbers of female athletes, according to a head of a national sports company which runs a women’s basketball team.

“It is really happening as we speak now,” she said. “History is really happening.”

Her players said that by connecting sports to health issues, other women and girls are inspired to exercise.

International matches also chip away at the image of Arab women as virtually silent members of their society.

Wearing white uniforms with long pants and Islamic headscarves, the women’s team plays against teams around the world. By playing in other countries, Arab women broaden their own horizons as well as those of the nations they visit.

“So we do that to promote sports locally and internationally to try to change stereotypes.”

International sports

Internationally, Arab female athletes are just beginning to shine amid pushback from conservatives and leaders at home. In 2012, Saudi Arabia sent its first two female athletes to the Olympic Games in London, but only after the other countries that barred women from the games had also agreed, apparently bowing to pressure from the International Olympic Committee.

Women’s sports teams face difficulties finding coaches and venues, with some sports arenas either unequipped or unwilling to host female teams.

At the moment, their international matches are "friendly" games, and many women's teams do not compete in official leagues locally or globally.

“We have great athletes here," one coach said. "Some of them, the girls, they want to play harder, they want to train harder, and they would love to compete for their country internationally ... as proud Arab women.”

     

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