It was a normal day in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The afternoon sun was about two hours from setting into the Red Sea. The day was winding down, but there was great anticipation for what was about to happen. American coaching experts had come to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to lead sports camps.
As the coaches’ vehicle turned off the major road and on to the narrow back streets of south Jeddah it was apparent to all that they were not in the same affluent part of town as when the drive began. Slowly weaving between the potholes and people all along the side street, everyone in the vehicle had the same thoughts – “just where are we headed?”
Then, out of the surrounding chaos an amazing facility emerges—Faisal Zahid Sports Park. Built by a local businessman, the sports park provided a perfect setting where Global Sports Partners conducted a week of training for 60 youth in the south Jeddah area. There were 30 boys in the basketball camp and 30 in the football camp. The American coaches who came out to lead the training provided expert skills and technical training during the week. It is important to note that GSP had purchased enough balls so that every camper had one during the drills that were conducted. The amount of “hands on the ball” time that each camper received was probably equal to 6 months of coming to the facility every day.
Arriving early for each session, GSP Football and Basketball experts Gregg Schroeder, Adam Bush, and Ian Hughes devoted plenty of personal time to interact with the campers and enjoyed getting to know and understand a bit about the life circumstances of many of them. All of the youth were enthusiastic and very grateful that Global Sports Partners would bring coaches to their neighborhood to conduct such a camp. The camps were made possible through the cooperative partnership between GSP and Jeddah United Sports Club and their assistance in preparing for this event. Promoting fair play and good sportsmanship, the theme for the camps was, “Say ‘no’ to bad sportsmanship”.
The final day was devoted to training local coaches. GSP experts and those from the local neighborhoods came together for classroom and field training. This proved popular and successful; next year, the camp will be extended to a full week of training for coaches. Thus, the Saudi Youth Sports Initiative will carry on into the future.
A concurrent training was held at a local welfare society for young women basketball players and coaches. The twenty youth who attended participated in drills, skills training, and friendly competition, led by three female American coaches. Women in this country have very limited opportunities to participate in organized sports, so this was a special time for these girls. They were very receptive to the visiting coaches, and the local coaches especially expressed a keen desire for another camp like this next year.
GSP donated all of the sports equipment from each camp to the Faisal Zahid Sports Park and the welfare society facility.
If you want to help support experiences like this for youth, contact GSP at firstname.lastname@example.org.