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First football tournament for Saudi women

Six teams will play each other at a private school in Jeddah, four days after holding the first basketball tournament

Gulf News

Manama: Jeddah is once more leading the way in empowering Saudi women through sports by holding the first formal football tournament for women on Wednesday.

The competition will feature six teams and will be held in a private school four days after the Red Sea city hosted the first basketball tournament for women in the country, massively attended by women spectators.

By holding the tournament, the football teams are aspiring to boost the skills of their players and to gain the formal recognition of the General Sports Authority that oversees sporting events in the kingdom and be able to take part in competitions in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab region and the world, Saudi daily Al Watan reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, women football players are facing formidable challenges that include finding expert women coaches.

“The comparison with other GCC countries is defavourable as Saudi female players do not even possess basic skills whereas expert and specialised women, including coaches, technicians and medics, oversee the women’s teams in other Gulf countries,” Reema Al Abdullah, player and coach with King’s United, said.

Founded in 2006, King’s United was the first women’s football team. It played friendly matches with Gulf teams, but it never participated in any formal tournament or championship.

Reema said she and the other players looked forward to support from the General Sports Authority to help them move forward, citing the high expenses needed for the team. The players currently pay for the team gear, the equipment and the rent of school fields that are not fit for football matches. They also pay for their travels to play friendly matches with other teams.

“We look forward to realising our dream to represent the kingdom in tournaments abroad. We feel that it is now nearer than before thanks to the support granted to sports in Saudi Arabia,” she said.

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