WAFF Highlights on Female Grassroots Program

Tuesday 06/10/2020

The West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) shed light on the female grassroots program in the continent by reviewing its most prominent axes and learning about the experiences of Member Associations in its application.

For this purpose, WAFF held an expanded workshop via video conference, with a large participation from representatives of Member Associations, including women’s football and grassroots officials. 

At the beginning of the workshop, Khalil Al Salem, the General Secretary of the WAFF, welcomed the representative of the AFC, Masahiro Suji, and all participants. He conveyed the condolences of the family of WAFF to the Kuwait Football Association for the passing of the Emir of the country, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Al Salem thanked the participants for attending the workshop, which comes within the plan and programs of WAFF to develop women's football in the region. In order to develop the grassroots category and help Member Associations to develop successful strategies in this field.

Moreover, Al Salem indicated that WAFF gives women's football and the grassroots sector in particular, great attention by focusing on organizing many activities and tournaments concerned with this sector, out of its keenness to develop and promote it to the highest levels. He also noted the importance of holding such workshops, to introduce the programs aimed at developing the grassroots at the continental level and exchanging experiences of civil federations to achieve maximum benefit in the region.

Al Salem affirmed that WAFF is a pioneer and has the initiative to provide all means that contribute to enhancing the level of women's football in the region. Through its constant keenness on the continuity of tournaments for all age groups, as well as appreciating the interaction of the Member Associations with these activities, which indicates the shared responsibility among all and the compatibility between ideas and plans and programs.

After that, Masahiro Suji talked about the nature and details of the AFC grassroots program, its objectives and the philosophy it is based on during the implementation of its axes. He also presented many experiences of the Member Associations in this regard.

He pointed to the importance of education since its inception in promoting football values and full knowledge of its origins and its role in how to solve problems and overcome difficulties. In addition to the role of health in the correct upbringing as a major factor in directing the lifestyle and the physical and mental fitness aspect alike as well to the societal axis and its role in facilitating the integration process, strengthening character and building friendships.

Also, he revealed that among the goals of the program is to create a safe and enjoyable environment for playing games, expanding the practice of the game, encouraging the recruitment of volunteers, providing social integration, supporting a healthy lifestyle and inspiring youth.

Masahiro talked about the target groups in the program, which start from the lower age groups up to professionals according to a scientific hierarchy, and he referred to the great development that the AFC Grassroots Festival had through the significant increase in the number of participation in it since its launch in 2013, as well as the experiences of the North Korean, Japanese, Hong Kongese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Australian and Indian federations.

For her part, Ms. Soleen Al Zoubi, Head of Women’s Football at the Jordan Football Association, reviewed the plans and programs of the Prince Ali Grassroot Centers that were established in 2005, which aimed to base women's football in Jordan and increase the number of female players to more than 5,000 players of all ages in order to support clubs and national teams for women.

Al Zoubi talked about the development of the work of these centers, which started from 3 centers only in 2005 to reach 14 centers in all governorates of Jordan with 490 players, 10 coaches and 18 coaches. She also presented the structure of the promising centers, tasks and duties, and the nature of the women's football season and the tournaments it includes and the path of the players that graduated.

Furthermore, Ali Shehab, Head of the Administrative Department at the Jordan Football Association, revealed that the workshops that are held for the coaches in the centers of grassroots and extracurricular activities that coincide with the official tournaments represented by the annual local festivals and those held in cooperation with the AFC.

Meanwhile, Wael Gharzeddine, Head of Women’s Football Development at the Lebanon Football Association, presented their experience in developing this sector, the strategies it relied on, and the successes it achieved.

He talked about the beginnings of women’s football in Lebanon by organizing the first women's league in 2008 with the participation of six teams. This interest escalated through the increase in the participation area, leading to the participation of 16 teams in the current season and the presence of 560 players registered as players in Lebanon.

He also talked about the emergence of the women's teams that began in 2006, then the first participation in the West Asian Federation Championship in 2007, and the keenness to be present in the regional championships for all groups, as well as appearing in the Asian Cup qualifiers.

At the end, Al Salem returned to emphasize the great benefit that the workshop had come out with, which will positively reflect on the Member Associations through what the participants learned of various experiences and axes, and a high degree of great interaction from all attendees and the valuable information they provided, and the value of the participation of Masahiro Suji and transfer through him the WAFF appreciation of the AFC.