Women’s Football in West Asia: Moving Forward
The Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) in partnership with the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) held a round table discussion in the Jordanian capital on Thursday and Friday titled, “Women‘s Football In West Asia: Moving Ahead”.
The seminar, sponsored by Zain, focused on identifying the next steps to develop women’s football in West Asia. The discussion also elaborated on how women’s football can be used as a platform for social development and identified how sponsors and other institutions can further support the development of women’s football in the region.
Participants included FIFA Vice President and AFDP Chairman HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Sheikha Naima Al Sabah of Kuwait, PepsiCo Vice President- Global Sport Marketing Jennifer Storm, CSR Director at Zain Tareq Bitar, Ambassador Wilfried Lemke (Special Advisor for UN SG on Sport for Peace and Development), AFC Vice President Moya Dodd, Director of National Game and Women’s Football at The Football Association Kelly Simmons, Women Development Manager at UEFA Emily Shaw, as well as representatives of 12 West Asian member associations and other football organizations. The full list is attached.
The seminar included presentations on the challenges and opportunities in women’s football in West Asia, followed by interactive working groups that focused on four key areas: Competitions, Governance, Marketing and Media & Communications. Each working group issued a series of recommendations on how to move women’s football forward in West Asia.
– Establishment of U16 and U19 Women Competitions in West Asia to encourage women’s football development in all age groups.
– Compulsory rotation of hosting of WAFF women competitions including the introduction of a hosting subsidy which will help in supporting a women Fair Play Cup for WAFF members with the assistance and guidance of AFC and AFDP.
– Setting up a Women’s Committee at WAFF that includes all 13 members, to be chaired by Sheikha Naima Al Sabah of Kuwait. The committee has been tasked with creating a comprehensive strategy for developing and promoting women’s football in West Asia, to be finalized this year for implementation by WAFF and its 13 member associations.
– Introduction of a woman representative on the executive boards of WAFF member associations (for those who don’t have a woman member already).
– Increasing administrative, financial, and technical support for women’s football at the member association level.
– Targeting specific companies that focus on women’s football or women’s sports including apparel, equipment etc.
– Sponsoring school tournaments and ensure linkage to WAFF member associations.
– Inclusion of Saudi Arabia in WAFF women’s tournaments as it represents the lion share of the WAFF market.
– Supporting female football and athlete stars for women’s football promote their products and help spread the message.
– Encouraging sponsors to support grassroots festivals for girls and women’s football.
– Encouraging sponsors to support sport facilities for local communities across the region, which can then be dedicated to women’s football activities.
– Identifying the key audiences: The gatekeepers (including family especially both mothers and fathers), young teens (boys and girls), schools and universities, the Government, international organizations and NGOs (especially those focused on women’s issues), and football organizations.
– Identifying key Media Channels to raise awareness on women’s football:
1. Women TV channels, women programs on TV, women magazines in West Asia
2. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube
3. Sport TV Channels in West Asia
4. Sport Print and online media in West Asia
– Identifying Key and Targeted Messages to promote women’s football:
1. An Athletic woman is an empowered woman who further empowers her community (football does not take away from culture and/or tradition).
2. Football for all, the right to play for all women and girls regardless of culture, religion, race etc.
3. Football can be a career choice for women (it is not only a sport).
4. Football levels the playing-field thereby promoting gender equality off the pitch and in society
5. Football promotes health and wellness
6. Highlight the Positive values of football (purity, respect, integrity, equality, inclusion)
– Next steps for WAFF members in media and communications included:
1. Encouraging and supporting each WAFF member to create a Facebook page and/or Twitter account for women’s football in an effort to promote the sport in their respective countries.
2. Kick off a women’s football campaign with catchy slogans by organizing a WAFF Girls Football Festival on International Women’s Day with the participation of female stars including football players, celebrities, Olympians and athletes from the region.
The two-day seminar concluded with an encouraging announcement by FIFA Vice President and AFDP Chairman Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein that all WAFF member participants will receive 250 UEFA donated footballs for exclusive use for women’s football in their countries as a token of appreciation for their participation and contribution, and to provide further support for the development of women’s football in the region.