RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Jan. 15, 2018) -- Ms. Daphne Donnelly always wanted to live and work overseas, so when she saw the job announcement for work as a Supervisory Recreational Specialist at the Office of the Program Manager, Saudi Arabian National Guard (OPM-SANG), she thought it would be the perfect opportunity for career development and her sense of adventure.
Donnelly arrived for work as the athletic director at OPM-SANG in May 2015. Her decision has not given her any regrets. "I had wanted to live overseas, but living in a country that not many people even get to visit is even more intriguing, I knew I made the right move," she said.
As the athletic director for OPM-SANG, Donnelly manages all the sports and fitness facilities, to include the gym, pool, softball and football fields, tennis and basketball courts, and the golf driving range. In addition to this, she also puts together all the Intramural Sports programs for the Eskan compound. "This job definitely keeps me busy, but I really enjoy working with the Soldiers and civilians that live and work on Eskan; I like making their life more enjoyable, Donnelly explains. "Living in Saudi Arabia is pretty restricted, so the intramural sports events are an important outlet for some people that live here," she adds.
One of the most popular events that OPM-SANG has is the command organizational day. "We have four teams, and I coordinate over 20 events for this day, it's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun for everyone," she said. Donnelly also schedules and coordinates three golf tournaments throughout the year.
Donnelly's position actually allows her to work with all of the organizations that are located on the Eskan compound, at times this can be challenging due to the diverse age range that resides on Eskan. "Half of the population is very mature and the other is very young, but I have been able to use my knowledge and abilities to make sure everyone is able to participate in the programs that we offer," she explains.
Despite her heavy workload, Donnelly has been able to do some travelling to places such as Thailand, Kuwait, and Abu Dhabi, but her favorite trip so far has been to Italy. "I went to Milan, Rome and Venice, all of those places are amazing, and if I have the opportunity, I will go back," she said.
One piece of advice she would offer to anyone who may be coming to Saudi Arabia is to read up on the culture. "For women in particular, the Saudi culture may take a bit getting used to," she said. "Saudi is making small changes when it comes to women. The biggest is that in a few months women will be able to drive," she adds.
Donnelly plans on getting her Saudi driver's license just because she would be among the first group of women to be able to get a driver's license in Saudi Arabia. "I think it would be cool to be part of Saudi history and have a Saudi Driver's license as a woman," she said.
Donnelly plans on extending for another year. "I really enjoy the job. It keeps me busy and active. I also really enjoy getting out and being with the people who are stationed here; I've developed friendships with people from all different backgrounds, and that has made my time here awesome," she said.