x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

World cup wisdom for UAE women's football team

The national side is returning from a US visit which should inspire players and officials while invigorating interest in the women's game across the country.

For a squad that had its first 11-a-side international match just 17 months ago, the UAE's women's national football club has already gone a long way - as far as the US, to be precise.

There, for the last three weeks, the club's players have been getting a memorable look at women's football in a country that has a professional women's league - as well as getting in some well deserved sightseeing.

Right now the main focus of the world's attention to women's football is Germany, where the Fifa Women's World Cup concludes this weekend, with Japan facing the US in the championship match on Sunday.

The UAE squad has a long way to go before it can aspire to that level of play, but this visit to the US should help the players move up the learning curve.

Meeting and training with several US pro teams is part of that learning, but it's not just on-the-pitch development that is coming from this voyage, which was organised by the UAE Embassy in Washington.

The players will also come home with a sense that full-scale women's football is here to stay. Already, national team coach Connie Selby notes, the club has more players under 16 than ever before.

The progress is evident. We can't quite say "next stop the Women's World Cup", but maybe someday.