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Saudi Arabia’s first girls’ football center set to open in Riyadh

Published: Updated:

The first football training center for girls in Saudi Arabia is set to open in the capital city of Riyadh, according to local media reports.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) will open regional training centers for aspiring female players across the Kingdom on September 11, the Arriyadiyah sports newspaper said.

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The centers will have three categories available for young women, which include: Under 13, under 15, and under 17.

Tryouts will be held for two-weeks to test the girls’ abilities, according to the report.

The facilities will provide a safe environment for girls in Saudi Arabia to practice football and are well-equipped to help discover their talents in an educational setting, Arriyadiyah cited the centers’ management as saying.

Women’s football in the Kingdom has witnessed massive development in recent years and the latest program is in line with SAFF’s initiative to encourage women to join the sport, the director of women’s football at the SAFF, Lamia Bahian, told Arriyadiyah.

Saudi women watch a friendly soccer match between Brazil and Saudi Arabia at King Saud university stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (File photo: AP)
Saudi women watch a friendly soccer match between Brazil and Saudi Arabia at King Saud university stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (File photo: AP)

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has made numerous changes to government policies and promoted the inclusion of women in sports in both professional and recreational capacities. Under the Vision 2030 plan – put forth by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – women have been welcomed into sport stadiums and allowed to form national teams.

From 2015 to 2020, women’s participation in sports in Saudi Arabia rose by about 149 percent, the Sports Minister Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal had said at an event last year.

“We’ve seen an increase of active women participation in sports by about 149 percent from 2015 till today. Only five years ago, women were not allowed to participate in the street but it’s a completely different ball game today,” the minister said during a webinar organized by the London Business School’s (LBS) Riyadh Chapter in June 2020.

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