An interview with the President of the Saudi Sports for All Federation, Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal.
Saudi Arabia has actively been creating waves in sports and leading an overall active lifestyle. Vision 2030’s core principles in mind, such as the Quality of Life Program objectives, give the opportunity to all living in Saudi to participate, organize and lead an overall active lifestyle. We had the opportunity to interview Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, President of the Saudi Sports for All Federation, to get a rare insight into the field and how the organization aims to spearhead the field in the country.
Can you tell us a little about the background of Saudi Sports for All and how it came to be?
The Sports for All Federation (SFA) is the main body responsible for developing community sports under the Saudi Ministry of Sport. Essentially, we work to empower people and communities across the Kingdom by increasing their access to fitness and sporting provisions, experiences, and engagements. We aim to help all Saudi society, citizens and residents alike, adopt positive and sustainable outlooks to physical fitness and overall wellness.
What pushed you or inspired you to get involved with the organization?
I had the honor of being officially appointed to the role of President of SFA in 2019. As President of SFA, I’m extremely passionate about transforming the Saudi wellness and physical activity landscape, realizing the Kingdom’s potential as a world-class sports hub. I jumped on the opportunity to join SFA – I want to serve my country and see the Kingdom achieve the vision of King Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The SFA is given every support imaginable to make these wellness and health goals a reality; what more could I ask for? I want to highlight the Ministry of Sports here under the Direction of Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal– they are nothing short of fantastic in terms of guidance and collaborative efforts. They are a pillar in the SFA’s success, and we see the passion of the Minister of Sports daily.
What are the main objectives of Saudi Sports for All?
The SFA is aligned with Vision 2030 and the Quality of Life Program objectives. The SFA has already met our first 2030 target; according to GStat, the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, at the latest measurement, more than 40 percent of all people in the country are active.
What are some of the targets you aim to achieve?
We’re now aiming for much bigger targets, and we’re confident that we can make it happen. The SFA is mandated to get people of all ages and abilities up and moving, support the enhancement of female participation, empower community sports groups, and so much more. We want to give you the tools to enjoy physical and sporting activities, safeguard your health, and become as active as possible. Joining in physical activity is a positive contagion in a way; you start to bring along your friends and family, and they start to bring their friends and family then along. About making a change in the world, that is one everyone can benefit from – start small and work your way up.
How have your lifestyle choices (such as veganism) impacted your life and health?
I’ve always been active and played all types of sports, everything from golf to football to tennis and so many others. I’m really into CrossFit, and I have been for several years. In the past year or so, I focused increasingly on my sleep, and I’ve sought to be as mindful as possible about paying attention to the nuances of health. Regarding being vegan, it is one part of my wider healthy living approach, and I am happy to say that it also intersects with my business life. I invest in companies working on nutritious and delicious alternatives to traditional animal agriculture, better for the environment and with no harm to animals.
What has the impact of Sports for All been like?
More than 48.2 percent of the population now practice physical activity for more than 30 minutes a week. This represents significant progress and fantastic achievement of the SFA team, guided by the Ministry of Sports and with the unwavering support of the Quality of Life program.
This percentage underlines how impactful the SFA has been in transforming the local sports scene. In 2021 alone, we launched over 27 initiatives and activities, including community programs, National Day engagements, and sports championships, all attended by more than 4 million participants.
According to Gstat’s latest Household Sports Practice Survey, 38.3 percent of females in the country now participate in various forms of weekly exercise. There are also 700 gyms dedicated to females and 500 community sports groups. This ensures inclusive sports and physical activity across the Kingdom.
What are some of the organization’s beliefs, and what’s in store for the organization’s future?
Over the past few years, SFA has impacted the country indelibly, bolstering Saudi’s community sports infrastructure and enriching its wellness culture. Going forward, we aim to build on this progress, doubling down on the development of our sports ecosystem. We will continue to launch high-quality facilities, like the SFA Domes, and empower women and girls to participate in more sports and physical activities, and hopefully attract people from all over the world to visit Saudi and participate in quality sporting engagements like the Riyadh Marathon.
All in all, we aim to help raise physical activity levels in the country, increasing awareness of the importance of healthy living and priming the nation for long-term success.