Saudi Arabia: Kick-off for the women’s soccer league

Status: 11/22/2021 2:21 p.m.

Women who are interested in sports or even do sports are actually still frowned upon in Saudi Arabia. But now the first official women’s soccer league starts in the country. That gives hope to many.

By Udo Schmidt, ARD-Studio Cairo

Al-Arabiya, the TV broadcaster from Dubai, financed by Saudi investors, the start of the women’s soccer league in Saudi Arabia is worth a special broadcast. Two moderators are sitting in the studio, together with a football expert and a Saudi player.

The new women’s soccer league has it all: 16 teams compete against each other in different regions of Saudi Arabia – in Riyadh, in Jeddah, in Dammam. The championship is then played in a final round.

First in the stadium, then on the field

The enthusiasm is great. “A wonderful idea. There have been competitions in women’s football, but not yet official ones,” says sports journalist Lotfy Al’Zoaby. “The idea of ​​the association taking care of women’s football came about when women were allowed to watch. That was the trigger.”

Mayada al-Hashem has been playing football for ten years, but has so far been behind closed doors. Now a dream is coming true for them with the plans of the Saudi Football Association: “I joined Shoalet Al Sharqeya’s team four years ago. We are constantly working on ourselves there and we are pursuing a dream that may come true.”

Women who are sporty and do sport, including women who like to watch sport, are actually still frowned upon in Saudi Arabia, even if there has been progress in recent years. For example, women are now allowed to drive a car – until recently that was unthinkable.

“Doors are opening for Saudi women”

What the player al-Hashem says about the importance of the league for sport therefore also applies to society as a whole: “Doors are opening for Saudi women. Young girls in particular, who still have development ahead of them, will benefit from this.”

For the soccer player, the founding of the league means not only respect for her achievements, but also access to professional training. And of course the desires are growing: “I would like to get to know how people train abroad and what differences there are,” says Al-Hashem. “In Portugal I already saw technology and fitness improving there. It was like a football vacation for me, the best time of my life.”

Monika Staab is supposed to build up the national team

Now it starts in the women’s soccer league on the Arabian Peninsula, with the games Ennusur Union against Al-Mamlaka, the eagles against the women’s kingdom, and Al-Waha against Schulat Ascharqia, the oasis against the flame of the eastern region.

By the way, Monika Staab, who has already coached Qatar’s women’s national team, is now supposed to set up a Saudi women’s national team.

Saudi women’s soccer league starts

Udo Schmidt, ARD Cairo, November 22nd, 2021 1:16 p.m.

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