Will Saudi women soon play soccer games instead of just watching them?
AMEinfo found one reference of a Saudi women soccer team, and it’s on Wikipedia.
“The Saudi Arabia women’s national football team would be the national team representing the kingdom in international football. However, the team does not yet exist because of influence of religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, systematic discrimination against women’s sport, and active opposition of political leaders and sport administrators,” said wikipedia.
Well, wikipedia may want to update their records, because all of that is no longer applicable.
In the era of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Vision 2030 has changed the rules of the game in the kingdom towards more openess and reforms.
First, Saudi women got their driving ban lifted, set to go into effect June 2018.
A 30 plus year old ban on cinemas was removed with the first movie theatres expected to open in March 2018.
Can a similar 2008 ban on Saudi women participation in soccer matches be lifted?
Might self-organised Saudi women teams, who perhaps played games out of the sight of men, be in full force on the pitch any time soon?
Fisrt things first: Saudi women watching a game
Anyhing is possible in Saudi nowadays, but before Saudi women take to the field, they will first fill up soccer stadiums.
The Saudi Ministry of Information announced that sports stadiums in Saudi Arabia will have women attending football games in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam for the first time ever, starting this coming Friday.
“The first match that women will be allowed to watch will be Al-Ahli versus Al-Batin, January 12,” it said in a statement on Monday.
The same will go for a second match Saturday,January 13 and a third next January 18, followed by a post attendance assessment by the General Sports Authority (GSA) before proceeding forward.
Abdul Rahman Al-Qadheeb of GSA told the Riyadh Daily that special arrangements have been made at the three stadiums.
“There will be a number of ways in which women will be granted access to the matches, including the ticketing system which will be invested in, and the electronic gates which will be controlled and transferred between the three stadiums as well as other places on the field in case the stadium is crowded,”Al-Qadheeb said.
It will be Saudi women’s second live view of a stadium following last September’s natioal day fetivities held in a Riyadh sports compound.
Who has beaten Saudi to the punch in terms of women soccer sports?
A long pass for Kuwait women’s soccer league
On October 11, 2017, the Kuwaiti women’s football league kicked off at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium with 12 teams in participation.
the league will stretch until mid-March 2018, reports Al-Jaridah daily.
“Participating in the championship will be Al Fatat Club, Al-Oyoun, Juventus Academy, the American University of Kuwait, Famos, West Wing, Jaguars, Waves, Seven, Navy and Hawally,” said the daily.
“The championship is held for the first time under the umbrella of the Football Federation, after the recommendation was approved by the Women’s Football Committee, chaired by Dr Anwar Nouri.”
UAE women soccer: Championship driven
According to FIFA.com, fans of women’s football in the United Arab Emirates are excitedly awaiting the beginning of their first-ever qualifying campaign for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, to be held in Jordan 6-20 April 2018, where five berths for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ will be up for grabs.
“This dream is the culmination of an organised effort in the UAE to propel women’s football to the highest level within the shortest possible time frame,” said FiFa.com.
The UAE team has Noura Al-Mazrouei as goal keeper.
“I remember when we were just a small group of girls with dreams of kicking a ball around, but we’ve worked hard and learned a lot,” Mazrouei said.
“We’ve overcome teams that have been around a lot longer, and we won two West Asian Championships in a row. Now, we’re about to turn another dream into reality by taking part in these Asian Cup qualifiers. We’re going to Tajikistan with the aim of qualifying. We know it won’t be easy, but we’re determined.”
FIFA.com reports that in 2012, the UAE’s first female school leagues were launched, featuring 16 teams at U-13 and U-15 level.
The ‘Budding Talents’ development project began in Abu Dhabi and then spread to the other emirates, attracting 2,000 girls.
National U-14 and U-16 teams were then established, as were 22 training centres overseen by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.