- Players to return to clubs for Premier League fixtures next month
- Over 50,000 girls inspired who have registered for inaugural nation-wide schools league
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Following the historic launch of Saudi Arabia’s Women’s National Team last year, the ‘Green Falcons’ welcomed Asian counterparts Bhutan in their debut matches on home soil.
Taking place across four days at the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Stadium in Abha, both friendly fixtures witnessed 6-goal thrillers. The first match on Saturday saw the hosts bounce back from a 3-1 defeat at half-time to claim an epic three-all draw thanks to Al Bandari Al Mubarak and Nora Ibrahim’s strikes in the closing 15 minutes. Both teams met again last night with the visitors claiming an action-packed 4-2 victory.
Reflecting on the past week, SAFF Women’s Football Department Supervisor and board member Lamia Bahaian said: “We have been working very hard towards the moment we finally see our women’s national team compete at home. We are extremely proud of how they’ve already inspired a nation and are helping pave the way for a career in the sport with over 50,000 young girls signing up for the first-ever schools league. Since the launch of the team just last year, we’ve been grateful for the unconditional support shown to us by the Kingdom’s leadership. The players will now continue their development and progress in the Premier League’s inaugural season, in what is a hugely exciting moment in their careers.”
The matches represented the latest chapter in women’s football transformative journey in Saudi Arabia. Since the establishment of a dedicated women’s football department at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) three years ago in 2019, it currently hosts 450 registered players, 49 qualified referees and over 900 D, C and B licensed coaches. This progress comes as a result of a clear long-term strategy launched last year by SAFF to grow interest and participation at all levels of the women’s game, with unprecedented investments in areas such as grassroots, player development, coaching, facilities, competitions and governance.
The national team’s players’ attention now turns towards their respective clubs for preparation ahead of the launch of the SAFF Women’s Premier League and return of the First Division League. Featuring eight clubs from across Saudi Arabia, most notably Saudi Pro League sides Al Nassr, Al Hilal and Al Ittihad for the first time, the newly formed Premier League takes place over two-legged fixtures with a total number of 56 matches. The First Division League, formerly known as the SAFF Regional Football League, will see a further 17 teams compete across three cities.
German head coach Monika Staab could not be prouder of the team’s performances and progress over the 180 minutes, in what were only the national team’s third and fourth matches following the opening encounters against the Seychelles and Maldives earlier this year. She believes playing the first meetings at home mark another historic milestone in the national team’s journey and the women’s game as a whole.
Following last night’s match, she said: “This week will undoubtedly go down in the history of Saudi Arabian football. Playing our first matches at home was a massive source of pride for everyone involved in the women’s game across the country. I am extremely pleased with the experience gained by our girls and their performances against a tough opponent. They showcased their true fighting spirit and strong willingness to fight till the final whistle. We look forward to getting more international minutes under our belt, both at home and away, as we continue towards journey to achieve the ambitious goals set for women’s football.”
Fans can get involved and follow the progress across the women’s via the official Women’s Football Department Twitter account @SAFF_WFD.
For more information about the Saudi football, you can visit the SAFF website: SAFF.com.sa/en/index.php.
About the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF)
Established in 1956, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) is a member of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and the governing body for football in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responsible for overseeing grassroots development and all aspects of the amateur and professional game. It is in charge of elevating Saudi football to new heights, offering new opportunities across the ecosystem and inspiing the nation to participate and become an influential force for good within world football. SAFF currently administers 17 competitions for a total of 600+ teams across various age groups, most notably the annual King’s Cup and Saudi Super Cup.
SAFF manages nine national teams ranging from the U-15 age group all the way to the first team, all of which compete in 23 regional and international competitions. As part of its significant investment in women’s football, it recently established the first women’s national team. It is responsible for the development and upskilling of over 3,000 national coaches and 1,700 referees across the Kingdom.