The Secret Life of a Saudi Women’s Soccer Team

Though Saudi Arabia sent female athletes to the Olympics for the first time this year, women within the country still struggle to find basic sports and fitness facilities.

Saudi Arabia 2012

By Jacob Templin

August 07, 2012

Also aired on TIME

Sarah Attar and Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani are making Olympic history as the first two women to represent Saudi Arabia. But inside their country, women are deprived of basic sports and fitness options. Beyond just sports, most women grow up without being allowed physical education and access to gyms.

Those women who do play recreational sports must do it behind closed doors. Challenge, a women’s soccer team in Riyadh plays in friends’ backyards. “I want to be an athlete, but I can’t be an athlete if I don’t have the equipment that makes me an athlete.” Says Rawh Abdullah, the captain of the team. In this video, she describes the challenges women face to stay active in one of the most conservative and draconian countries in the world.

Video produced by Jacob Templin for TIME and the International Reporting Project.