ABU DHABI // The Armed Forces Officers Club Ramadan Festival, which concluded on Sunday with the five-a-side football finals, has raised the profile of women's sport in the Emirates, according to organisers.
"We placed more emphasise in promoting women's sport, particularly to promote it among the Emirates, and the response this year was very encouraging," said Lt Gen (Retd) Mohammed Hilal Al Kaabi, the head of the higher organising committee.
"Football has a large following among the Emirati girls, and we saw some of the national team players in action.
"This year it was a huge jump for women's football, and we hope next year will be better."
The directive to promote and create awareness for sport among Emirati women comes from the General Women's Union and Family Development Foundation, both headed by Sheikha Fatima bin Mubarak.
"From what I have seen tonight, and heard of the last three weeks, the AFOC Festival has set the precedent to encourage the Emirati women to actively get involved in sport," said Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Economy, who was the guest of honour on the final day.
Thailand's national team won the women's football title, picking up a cheque for Dh100,000, that, according to their manager Thanapat Ujjin, will be shared by the 10 players.
The three-day AFOC Festival drew more than 3,000 entries in 13 different sporting disciplines that included five-a-side football for men and women, boxing, judo, karate, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, ice hockey, shooting, chess, and PlayStation.