Saudi Arabia is continuing its push towards more gender equality. After allowing women to attend a football match for the first time in January 2018, the Kingdom is now creating a Women’s Football League in a push to support them in sports.
The announcement was made by the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA), which inaugurated the official Women’s Football League (WFL) in Saudi at a launch event in Riyadh earlier this week on Monday.
As per SFA, the WFL will be under the SFA initiative umbrella and fully funded by the Federation. Essentially, the WFL is a nationwide community level league for women aged 17 and above that will be mainly staged in three cities for the first season – Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam – with the potential for more depending on registrations.
The WFL format will consist of preliminary rounds in each area to establish regional champions, SFA explains. These will then go on to a knockout stage, the WFL Champions Cup, to determine the national champion of Saudi Arabia with the final match date to be announced later in the season. They will be competing for a total prize allocation of SAR 500,000 ($133,251).
Saudi also sent female competitors to the Olympics for the first time in 2012.
Saudi permitted girls to play sports in public schools 2017, and has been pushing for a larger role for female citizens in the sports sector in recent years. It was quite the eventful year for women in the Kingdom, as that was when they were also allowed into gyms for the first time, as well as when they held participated in the first-ever basketball tournament for women in Jeddah, which took place at King Abdullah Sports City. Finally, Princess Reema bint Bandar was appointed President of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports during that year as well.
As part of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan, the role of women in Saudi society will continue to grow. In the summer of 2018, the ban on women driving was lifted, and it in 2019 they were finally allowed to travel alone and unaccompannied by a male guardian. As we approach that looming 2030 date, we can expect the loosening of more strict laws on women in an effort to grant them more equality while simultaneously boosting the economy.