Abu Dhabi: Former vice-captain of the Australian national women’s football team, Moya Dodd, wants more and more females in the UAE to get involved in the Beautiful Game.
Dodd was clearly in high spirits as she gave a football workshop for female students at the Future Centre for Special Needs in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
She spent an hour playing football with 20 special needs students and concluded the game by giving out badges she had brought along from the Football Federation Australia (FFA).
“I love football and I love the fact that anyone can play it for fun, fitness, and fulfilment and this is true for [those with] special needs. They feel the same enjoyment and it’s wonderful to see them participate because you can see the enthusiasm and joy on their faces,” Dodd told Gulf News.
The former “Matildas” player was in the capital on a short visit to speak at the International Conference on Women’s Sport, which was held on April 21 and 22.
She hailed the impact of the conference, saying that it had “some outstanding speakers, including women who pioneered women’s participation in sports”.
Dodd added that there is much potential for growth of women’s football in the region, particularly due to the stress the country’s leaders place on sports.
“[Football] is the world’s most popular game and so long as women can access the game, it’s inevitable that more and more women will want to play and enjoy it,” she noted.
Having been actively involved in campaigning for the right of women to wear the hijab on the sporting field, Dodd said that football is now more accessible than ever. She described the change in the hijab rule as having an “important, symbolic, and practical message”, which opens doors for everyone to join the sport.
“It’s also important for women to get involved in the governance of the game and be part of the decision-making committee including the Fifa Executive Committee at the Fifa Congress,” she remarked.
Dodd is currently playing in an over-35 team, and said: “I haven’t learnt how to give [football] up yet.” She is also the vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and is a candidate for a seat on the Fifa executive committee.