Saudis launch women’s development plan allied to Asian Cup 2027 bid

March 24 – Saudi Arabia, which launched its first women’s league last year, has unveiled plans of a new development programme for the women’s game within the country, allied to its bid to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) is putting a focus on encouraging girls to play football with a view to increasing the competitiveness of youth teams and creating a competitive international team within five years.

The Saudi plan is to open up women’s football development activities across the Gulf region in particular, “but ultimately across Asia”. Creating competitive local nations is the objective of an outreach programme for the women’s game and very much a part of the Saudi 2027 bid’s development legacy. The women’s programmes would start this year.

SAFF Secretary General Ibrahim Alkassim, talking about the passion the country has for hosting the Asian Cup in 2027, said: “We must, therefore, use this momentum to make a very timely move forward for women’s football. Our research shows that of the more than five million passionate football fans here in Saudi Arabia, 33% are female and their share is growing. They deserve our full attention, and today’s announcement of our new ambition for women’s football will hopefully send an encouraging message to all.”

The Saudi plan has the newly opened Mahd Sports Academy as “a core element” of women’s football development. Launched in September, the academy is designed to become one of the largest sporting academies in the world over the next decade and is making the development of girl’s football a priority.

SAFF Board Member and Ministry of Sports Planning and Development Deputy, Mrs. Adwa Alarifi followed by saying, “As we in Saudi Arabia undertake our own transformation through our national Vision 2030, we want to use our long-standing passion for football to make sure that women and girls across our country can get involved and enjoy the game. We are just at the beginning of this development, but we have an ambitious agenda and the hosting of an AFC Asian Cup in 2027 would provide a fantastic opportunity to accelerate our plans for the future. Our message to the new generation of female players is clear: go girls!”

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