Three months ago a new league was formed to encourage women and girls to participate in football in the Middle East.
With football a rapidly growing sport for females, the Arabian Womens Football League was founded by three women. One of those founders – Sarah Jones – explained why the trio decided to make the AWFL a reality.
“We want to build an ecosystem that will create many opportunities for girls to play seven-a-side but also 11-a-side throughout the year,” she said.
“The main idea is to have regular competitive football for girls and women (and) build a platform where girls can obtain officiating and coaching qualifications to encourage more women and girls to have leadership positions in the football community.
“There are a lot of talented footballers but no offical pathway to develop their game. There is no regular competition to challenge them and very little opportunity to play the 11-a-side game which we all know and love.
“Many of these girls are talented footballers and will go to university without playing 11-a-side.”
To make sure that changes, there will be a girls tournament running alongside the women’s league which is now introducing a second division this month.
Two girls football tournaments on January 15 and February 5 will be held at the Ripe Market and open to U9, U11, U13 and U16s teams.
To get to know those running the league, Jones provided some more information on the women in charge.
“Jodie Mortimer is a junior school PE teacher and runs the junior girls football at DASSA, and ia a loyal Aston Villa fan,” she said.
“Maria Khan has played a high level for over a decade in the US College teams and now she is representing the Pakistan Women’s National Team and regularly plays in Dubai in the women’s and mixed league.
“I have a similar background to Jodie but I am a PE teacher and run the DASSA senior girls football league. I have played conference football in the UK and am a dedicated Leeds United fan.
“I had worked with Jodie with DASSA and played with Maria and brought the group together to form the AWFL. The League was run previously by a player who left Dubai and the AWFL had a vision to create an ecosystem for girls and women’s football, and make the League more professional.”
- To join the 150 women aged 14-43 who are already playing, you can get in touch with Sarah by calling 050 647 1900 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org