Amal sees bright future for UAE women football

Amal sees bright future for UAE women football

The UAE women football committee has created strong ties with the Asian and world football governing bodies, the AFC and the Fifa.



By Hisham Al Gizouli (chief Reporter)

Published: Mon 22 Jun 2015, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:12 PM

Abu Dhabi Sports Club players pose on the podium after winning the IPIC Women National League (left); Amal Bu Shallak looks to make a mark. — Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi Sports Club players pose on the podium after winning the IPIC Women National League (left); Amal Bu Shallak looks to make a mark. — Supplied photo

Dubai — Knowing that she has to jump over numerous social barriers and hurdles, and some times to dribble around them, in a highly conservative Gulf society, Amal Bu Shallak, is ready for the tough task after becoming the first UAE woman to be appointed as the UAE FA Board Member. And also as a secretary general of the women’s football committee, which is operating under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Bu Shallak is dreaming big and looking beyond the horizon when it comes to the future of women football in the country.

“The sky is the limit,” the young UAE lady told Khaleej Times during the opening ceremony of the current Ramadan Mundial at the Abu Dhabi Police Officers’ Club on Sunday. “Our ambition is to host one of the upcoming Fifa Women Football World Cup finals and we are not far away from realising this dream,” she confirmed. “And at the personal level, my dream is to join the Fifa and the International Olympic Committee to make my mark as a UAE and Arab woman,” she said.

“UAE women football is now international,” said Bu Shallak hinting at the recent developments that have followed after the team moved into the top 100 teams in the Fifa rankings. “The UAE team have finished ahead of Bahrain and Lebanon in the Aphrodite Cup in Cyprus where Emirati girls won one of their three matches. We are now No. 73 at the international level, 14th in Asia, while leading the way in the Gulf and second behind Tunisia in the Arab world,” a confident Bu Shallak said.

UAE is promoting women sports in a big way, according to Bu Shallak. “The UAE experience to push forward the woman’s cause has extended even to football. The initiative to accommodate the UAE woman into the social movement of the society has started since the creation of the United Arab Emirates with the initiative of the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Women sports began at schools and it has picked up and now we are knocking at the doors of the international scene,” she added.

Most recently, the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare decided that UAE women should be represented in all sports associations up to the National Olympic Committee. “The firm stand of Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, behind the women sports movement and the role played by Shaikha Fatima bint Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Fatima bint Mubarak Academy for Ladies Sports and Chairwoman of the Abu Dhabi Ladies Club, have paved the way for UAE women to establish a strong presence in each and every regional and international body and this in turn has strengthened our position abroad,” she added.

Bu Shalak feels more Emirati girls will take to football. “It’s true that not all of the players of the senior, U-16 and U-14 national teams are UAE girls, but the majority of them belong to this young nation. As I have told you, we are knocking on the doors. In the very near future, everything would be fine.

“We are hosting international tournaments and providing for them the highest level of organizational and technical support. I am also the deputy chairman of the West Asian Football Federation (second in command to Prince Ali Ibn Al Hussain) and we have played a major role in allowing girls to wear ‘hijab’ during football matches,” she added.

The UAE women football committee has created strong ties with the Asian and world football governing bodies, the AFC and the Fifa. “We are always present whenever there’s any women football activity. I will attend the Fifa World Women Football Cup final alongside Mohammed Abdulla bin Hazzam, acting secretary general of the UAEFA,” she added.

Bu Shallak sees a bright future for UAE women football. “Given the strong support and backing of the wise leadership, and the healthy atmosphere, women football is making big strides and the future is surely very bright. Our immediate target was to enter the Fifa Rankings and this goal has been successfully accomplished. After the successful and strong launching of the IPIC Women National League, the next step is to improve the quality of our competitions, bringing in more UAE lady coaches, referees and administrators. It’s a long process and there’s too much work to be done,” she concluded.


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