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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi Arabia has launched the kingdom's first women's football league in a "major leap forward for the future" of the country, the President of the Saudi Sports for All Federation announced.
The WFL was unveiled at an event on Monday along with the tournament prize money totalling 500,000 Saudi Riyal (Dh 489,600)
"The commencement of the Saudi Women’s Football League is one more major leap forward for the future of our country, our health, our youth and our ambitions to see every athlete be recognised and nurtured to their fullest capability,” said Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud.
The tournament will be mainly held in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam and follow the format of a series of regional competitions from which the winners enter knockout stages before a final match.
The league was launched after workshops and consultations across the country and will be supported with coaching and refereeing courses for women over 17.
“Active people and the bolstering of women in sports and the recognition of women’s athletic achievement are all important steps forward. The SFA is excited to see this landmark women-centric competitive series become a reality,” Prince Khaled said.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 has pushed for sweeping social reforms to open up the kingdom to foreign investors and diversify the economy away from a reliance on oil. The vision also includes efforts to improve health and quality of life for the Saudi population.
The launch came just days before the kingdom announced a cabinet reshuffle that turned the General Sports Authority into a full ministry. The head of the body, former race car driver Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki, was appointed the kingdom’s first sports minister.
The new league comes on the heels of a raft of changes to women's rights laws in the kingdom. In January 2018 women were allowed to attend sports events in stadiums for the first time and young girls allowed access to physical education and sports in school.
In August 2019, the kingdom gave permission for women to travel freely without a male guardian.
“Empowering women comes through positive and proactive programmes like the WFL that have been conceptualised to continue to have a lasting impact on health, fitness, and well-being," SFA Managing Director Ms Shaima Saleh Alhusseini said.
In recent years, numerous Suadi women’s sports teams have formed. Last year, a team of women from the kingdom travelled to Las Vegas to compete in the World Women’s Bowling Championship. The bowlers formed a team after playing for fun in alleys around Riyadh and then deciding to compete and getting the backing of the government.
Updated: February 26, 2020 09:36 AM
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