Saudi Arabian Women’s Football Gathers Momentum And Investment With Launch Of New U-17 Team
Saudi Arabian Women’s Football Gathers Momentum And Investment With Launch Of New U-17 Saudi Arabian Women’s Football Gathers Momentum And Investment With Launch Of New U-17 TeamSaudi Arabian Women’s Football Gathers Momentum And Investment With Launch Of New U-17 Team
With 28 players set for a training camp in Riyadh this weekend, Saudi Arabia has launched its third women’s national team – the Under-17 squad.
- A new youth age group follows in the footsteps of the main squad and futsal team.
- Following regional trials, 28 players were selected for training camp in Riyadh.
It demonstrates the rapid growth of the women’s game in Saudi Arabia since the Saudi Arabian Football Federation established a dedicated women’s department in 2019.
It is the U-17 squad’s hope to follow in the footsteps of their senior counterparts, who recently won their international friendly tournament debuts and are well on their way to entering the FIFA Rankings List.
In Saudi Arabia, there are two active professional leagues with 25 clubs and 523 players representing over 20 different nationalities. Saudi Arabia’s inaugural schools’ league featured 4,700 teams, attracting almost 50,000 schoolgirls.
Last month, Anoud Al-Asmari became the first Saudi female referee to be officially licensed by FIFA and officiate league matches. There are 49 referees currently registered and officiating league matches.
Across the country, over 1,000 licensed coaches are nurturing young female talent in clubs, academies, schools, and training centers. “Saudi Arabia has become an ambitious supporter of sport to encourage its young population to get active and live a healthy lifestyle,”
Yasser Al-Misehal, president of the SAFF, said. Our investments, including grassroots facilities, partnerships, and hosting global events, reflect the country’s rapid progress and transformation.
He said on and off the pitch, “Women and girls are central to everything we do in sport, and we are working to ensure equal access to facilities, opportunities, and careers.” As a result, all of our national teams, regardless of their gender, receive the same amount of daily allowance during national duty. They train on the same pitch, in the same type of accommodation, and with the same equipment.
We are committed to women’s sports, and football in particular, and today’s U-17 team is another indication of this. Having been selected to host (the) AFC Asian Cup 2027.
Our focus now is on hosting the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2026. You are invited to visit our country to see for yourself how the country’s transformation is affecting daily lives, and the role sport plays throughout society.”
In the Kingdom, Vision 2030 has led to significant economic and social reforms, but sports for schoolgirls have seen an immediate boost, with thousands taking advantage of new opportunities previously unavailable.
Today, 37 sports federations have a women’s national team led by four female presidents. Over 200,000 girls play sports every week, representing a marked increase in sports participation at all levels.
A long-term strategy and commitment by the SAFF to grow interest and inspire participation in the game at all levels are driving the strong women’s football movement in Saudi Arabia, which mirrors much of the transformation happening across all areas of the country.
The SAFF has invested unprecedented amounts in grassroots football, player development, coaching, refereeing, and competitions.
After tryouts at Saudi Arabia’s three regional training centers in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, which welcome girls as young as six every three weeks to increase participation and develop skills, the U-17 squad was selected.
Over 300 talented players auditioned for these centres’ U-17 national team selection. Some of the players were spotted playing in last year’s inaugural Schools’ League, which was launched at the end of last year.
Five of the 28 selected players are already honing their skills in front of crowds every weekend in the Women’s Premier League, while the U-17 national team’s second training camp is set for Feb. 9-11, 2023.
“I am pleased to see such a big turnout for the tryouts, and it really shows the passion these girls have for football,” said Lamia Bahaian, supervisor of the Women’s Football Department and SAFF board member.
It makes our job easy when they want to play, watch and participate in any way they can, but it also adds an additional responsibility to make sure the women’s game gets the recognition it deserves.
Our mission is to offer a 360-degree women’s football ecosystem, which is why we have been working towards the establishment of the U-17 team for a couple of years now.
The fact that five of the players are already earning minutes in the Women’s Premier League shows how the league has benefited the game’s overall development.”