Thursday 01 October 2020, 05:49

Saudi Najd breaking down barriers

  • Najd Fahd has become the first Saudi woman to win an e-football title

  • Student started playing the game at the age of seven

  • She wants to follow in the footsteps of FIWC champions

2015 was a special year for Saudi Arabia in the FIFA Interactive World Cup, with Abdulaziz Alshehri becoming the first Saudi to win the title after beating Julien Dasonville at the Grand Final in Munich. In August 2018, Mosaad Aldossary followed suit when he was crowned FIFA eWorld Cup champion.

The popularity of competitive FIFA has continued to grow in recent years in Saudi Arabia, which now has its first winner of a major female FIFA20 title.

This July, Najd Fahd became the inaugural winner of FISU eSports Challenge’s female tournament after she beat Brazilian Alexssandra Batista 8-0 in the final. Having won her first FIFA20 title, Fahd now aspires to follow in the footsteps of Alshehri and Aldossary. spoke with Najd about her remarkable feat. “It’s a great achievement, especially because it’s a global tournament. What makes it even more important is that it was the first edition of tournament and the first title for Saudi Arabia in the female category," she said.

Najd started playing interactive football games when she was only seven. Yet despite her vast experience and routine of practicing for more than an hour each day, she believes the tournament will help her overcome the anxiety inherent in participating in similar events in the future.

"Besides winning the title, I learned how to cope with the immense pressure that comes with competitions, and this has helped me in my personal life too," said Fahd, a student at the Faculty of Economics at Imam Muhammad bin Saud University.

Growing ambition

In the wake of Fahd’s victory, the Kingdom has seen increased interest in electronics sports, particularly from the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sport (SAFELS). She now hopes that her achievement will inspire other women or girls.

"What I did will open the door for other Saudi girls to play this game. Many have a somewhat different idea of electronic games," Fahd said.

"I think this achievement will motivate more girls to try FIFA20 and will encourage both the community and the authorities in charge of electronic games to give more support to girls who want play them," she added.

Fahd’s next step is to participate in the FIFA eWorld Cup. She aspires to become the first Saudi woman to appear in the Grand Final, and perhaps even to follow in the footsteps of Mosaad Aldossary, who reached the final of the last two editions.

"I want to participate in the FIFA eWorld Cup through the qualifiers in order to be the first Saudi woman to take part in these and then reach the Grand Final," Fahd said.

"In two years, my goal is to have my name in the world ranking and to participate in the FeWC qualifiers, and if I manage to do this, it will be a great achievement to add to what I’ve already done," she concluded.

If Najd succeeds in achieving her goal, it will mark the beginning of a new chapter for e-football in Saudi Arabia.