In a major shift in its anti-women stance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had allowed the formation of a community-level Women’s Football League (WFL) in November this year. As such, several amateur female football (soccer) players are now hoping to play the sport professionally.
“Finally, I am so happy that I now have the chance to achieve my dream. I used to play abroad but now thank God I can play in my own country. And if God is willing, I will get the chance to become a professional player,” stated soccer player Mariam Alamgiri.
While speaking on the development, coach Maram Albutairi remarked, “In the Eastern Flames Club, we have 52 players of various age groups. Some are below 17 years old and some are below 14 years old. We train them and develop their skills in different ways including overall fitness, neuromuscular compatibility, football skills and more. Hopefully, we will help them become professional players.”
ICYMI: Saudi Arabia allows the formation of an amateur women’s league for the first time ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/iqoxJWbUFU— Reuters (@Reuters) December 20, 2020
Formation of amateur female soccer league in Saudi Arabia
The Women’s football league, developed by Ministry of Sports, Quality of Life program and Saudi Sports for All Federation, began its tournament on November 17 this year. Reportedly, a total of 24 teams from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam participated in the amateur league. The players belonged to the age group of 17-39.
The tournament included a city qualification round what was later transformed into the Champion’s Cup. The finals were played on December 17 during which Challenge Riyadh beat Jeddah Eagles to win the tournament. With a prize of 1,50,000 Saudi Riyals (₹29.4 lacs), the tournament marked a major shift in the policy of the Saudi government towards women. Interestingly, it was only in January 2018 when women were allowed entry in football stadiums.