Saudi Arabia has announced the launch of a football league for women in what can be considered a long leap for the Emirates that prohibited female from entering stadium for men’s football matches.
The Women’s Football League (WFL) has been formally launched by the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) at a launch event in Riyadh. The city will also host the first season of the WFL along with Jeddah, and Dammam.
It is the latest initiative led by SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal to promote grassroots sports activities for budding female and male athletes across Saudi Arabia.
SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal said: “The development of the WFL came about because we understood there was a need for community-level football for women.” Prince Khaled told Arab News.
“This community league is the first activation of many different community-level sports for women, and it will serve as a great model in terms of league infrastructure and inclusion metrics, contributing to Saudi Vision 2030 and the Quality of Life program.”
Fully-funded by the SFA, the WFL will be a nationwide community-level league for women aged 17 and above.
The WFL will offer a prize purse equivalent to $133,285 (Saudi Riyal 500,000).
Prince Khaled termed the WFL as “one more major leap forward for the future of our country, our health, our youth, and our ambitions to see every athlete be recognized and nurtured to their fullest capability”.
Women’s football is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup raised its profile to unprecedented levels, inspiring greater participation across the globe.
Also Read: Kica Women’s football league kicks off
He looked at the WFL as a pivotal initiative of the SFA and a major driver behind the realization of the Vision 2030 reform plan, which strives for a healthier and more active society.
SFA Managing Director Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini believes that the WFL will significantly improve the visibility of women in sports and prioritize their fitness, health and wellness, states a report by Arab News.
The SFA has ensured that the football pitches are ready for the start of the WFL in March, with all-female organizational and technical teams in place to manage the various committees working toward delivering the league.
Saudi women were first allowed to enter a football stadium in January 2018. The league is the State’s latest attempt to shrug off its conservative image.
Saudi Arabia is now seeking to boost women’s participation in sports as it eases strict decades-old rules separating the sexes.