RIYADH: Majd Alotaibi is dreaming big.
The captain of the U-17 Saudi Women’s National Football Team — established in February —hopes to inspire other girls across the Kingdom and dreams of winning the FIFA World Cup with the Green Falcons.
The U-17 team, led by Croatian coach Stella Gutal, consists of 28 players and is captained by Alotaibi, who is one of the youngest players in the Saudi women’s First Division, in which she represents Al-Yamamah FC.
Alotaibi started playing football in 2013, aged six, in a team coached by her father, who was a professional football player himself.
“My dad used to be a player so I felt like football was in my blood,” Alotaibi told Arab News. “It’s been a big part of my life since I was young.” Her family and friends “and everyone cheering me on” are her main motivation, she added. And she hopes to be a source of motivation for others too. “Being one of the youngest players in the (league and national team) means that I have to inspire younger girls,” she added.
She is quick to credit her teammates at Al-Yamamah as well, saying: “I would like to thank my teammates first of all, because they helped make it easier for me; because I’m one of the youngest, they take care of me.”
Alotaibi stressed that discipline and dedication are crucial for anyone hoping to become a professional.
“If you love the game and you want to do amazing things and achieve a lot, you need to believe 100 percent in what you’re doing,” she explained. “Always being there on time, always the first person on the field, last person off the field. If you have passion for something, you’re going to achieve a lot of great things.”
On March 24, Saudi Arabia’s Women’s National Team entered the FIFA world rankings after nine international matches over the previous year.
“Currently the Saudi national team is ranked 171 out of 188 national teams. That just proves how hard we have been working in such a short time so, inshallah, in the future you will see how far we come,” Alotaibi said.
After a recent victory in an international friendly match, the team gathered for official pictures, and Alotaibi mimicked Manchester City star Erling Haaland’s ‘yoga meditation’ goal celebration.
“I know it’s Haaland’s move, but I was happy and wanted to celebrate and that was the first thing that came to mind,” she said. “Now it’s become a thing.”
She has another signature pose where she brings her hands together to create the letter “M.”
“It’s M for Majd,” she said. “Inshallah, for upcoming matches when I score, I will do it.”
For now, Alotaibi is focusing on her career with Al-Yamamah and the Saudi national team, but would she consider a move in the future?
“What’s next for me is I want to become the best player in the league,” she said. “Regarding (other) clubs… to be continued.”