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The UAE women’s team defended their West Asia Cup championship in Abu Dhabi in October. The coach, Hassan Ajenoui, says he is encouraged he will now have a bigger pool of players to choose from.
The UAE women’s team defended their West Asia Cup championship in Abu Dhabi in October. The coach, Hassan Ajenoui, says he is encouraged he will now have a bigger pool of players to choose from.

Green shoots for girls game in UAE

The coach of the national women's team says he believes the UAE took the first step towards creating a women's football league by launching the first ever junior league for girls.

ABU DHABI //The coach of the national women's team says he believes the UAE took the first step towards creating a women's football league yesterday by launching the first ever junior league for girls.

Hassan Ajenoui, the women's national team coach, was at the Football Association's Abu Dhabi headquarters yesterday to hear the Women's Football Committee (WFC) announce details of an eight-team league for Under 13 and Under 16 girls, which will get under way at Al Ahli FC's Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Tuesday.

Formed in conjunction with the Football Association, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the Ministry of Education, the league will see each team play 14 matches over a period of three months with games lasting 40 and 50 minutes respectively. Each squad will comprise 20 players, 15 Emiratis and five expatriates.

"There have been several attempts to start a women's league for the past three years but it has not got off the ground for some reason or the other," Ajenoui said.

"But this time they have come up with an idea and I am extremely happy because now we have something to look forward to. This is the first step forward in establishing a full fledged women's league."

The UAE defended their West Asia Cup title in Abu Dhabi in October, and Ajenoui says the introduction of a domestic league would create an even stronger national team by increasing the size of the talent pool for him to choose from.

"Football is played at school levels and is widely popular among the Emirati women," Ajenoui said.

"However, we need to get them out in the open. The WFC has succeeded in starting a junior league and this will surely unearth a lot of talent.

"I would obviously monitor the games closely to shortlist prospective players to build up a squad for the national team.

"This will surely generate the interest from schools and once established it will provide the nucleus for the Emirati players to emerge.

"It is still too early and I can't put a time frame of a full fledged league, but definitely this is the way forward."

Amal Bu Shallakh, the general secretary of the WFC, said starting a female league was long overdue.

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"The best was to start from the grassroots," she said.

"The girls are very enthusiastic and they all are very excited. We consulted and discussed with our partners, the FA, ADSC and the Education Zones before arriving at this conclusion. The players were selected by the respective educational zones and I would like to think it will be a very competitive league.We are looking at long term and can only keep improving from now on.

"The first staging of this league would be an experiment and then will bring in the more improvement and changes if required. For the time being, we just want to get started."

 

apassela@thenational.ae

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