AMMAN: In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Asian Football Development Project has commemorated the programs it supported and continues to support for the empowerment of women and girls across Asia through football; one of the main pillars of AFDP.
“Through football, young girls and women gain confidence and leadership skills and stay healthy, that is why strengthening women’s football is in our DNA at AFDP,” Prince Ali said.
Since its official launch in January 2012, AFDP has been an active advocate for women’s advancement through initiating and backing various football projects across the Asian continent, including:
Mighty Girls in Cambodia
Mighty Girls is a permanent select team and empowerment program founded by SALT Academy in Cambodia, the program has revealed the most promising female football players in the country.
With support from AFDP, it provides academic, leadership, and football training opportunities, as well as a resource center and support network for girls who have demonstrated exceptional commitment but lack the educational or financial resources to continue studies or training.
Mighty Girls program contributes to increased acceptance of woman’s football and prevents cases of human trafficking by supporting these exceptional young female players as role models and leaders within their communities.
Faisal Cup in Malaysia
AFDP has enabled Dignity for Children’s Faisal Cup, the first and only football and netball tournament for children in Malaysia, to include girls in the football tournament for the first time in 2012 and again in 2013.
Dignity for Children is a Malaysia-based NGO that provides education to refugee and marginalized children who do not have access to public schools.
The Headscarf Campaign
In October 2011, AFDP hosted international experts in a roundtable discussion chaired by Prince Ali to address the headscarf ban in football, addressing the issue on the legal, cultural, medical safety, research and design fronts.
The discussion’s resolutions were then adopted by AFC and later presented to FIFA and IFAB, the entity that governs the laws of the game.
Over the following months, AFDP led a global campaign that included football players, men and women, AFDP partners and many international NGOs to raise awareness on the simple fact that football is for all and women who wear the headscarf should be allowed to play the game.
The campaign drew support from a plethora of organizations in sports, human rights and women’s rights.
The outcome was a success as IFAB accepted the suggested resolutions to allow women to wear a safe headscarf on the field of play.
Women Leagues in Palestine
AFDP assisted the Palestinian Football Association to establish the Under 16 Women’s League in 2013 and has expanded its support in 2014 to include the National Women’s League in Palestine.
Magic Bus in India
Magic Bus works to nurture 250,000 of India’s most marginalized children out of poverty using activities and sports and supports football teams in Delhi and Mumbai. With support from PepsiCo, AFDP helped Magic Bus to select and create girls’ football teams to play in the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Women’s Football Friendly Zones in Kyrgyzstan
AFDP and Football Federation Kyrgyz Republic joined forces in September 2013 to create women’s football friendly zones where young female players can come to training centers where they can find a supportive, professional coach and young peers who are also interested in football, aiming to increase women’s participation in football in Kyrgyzstan through free training and tournaments.
Football fields and tournaments in Zaatari and refugee host communities
AFDP organizes monthly football tournaments for Syrian girls between the ages of 8 to 18 as well as Syrian coaches residing in Zaatari, and supports various activities at girls-only pitches under the Norway Football Fields project in and around the camp, in cooperation with UEFA and streetfootballworld.
Girls Grassroots Centers in Jordan
AFDP and its Official Partner PepsiCo launched 15 Girls Grassroots centers across Jordan in October 2013, serving over 400 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 and running under the supervision of the Jordan Football Association.
The centers aim to provide young females with equal opportunities to play the sport and enjoy its social and health benefits.
Roundtable Discussion on Women’s Football in West Asia
AFDP held a discussion entitled ‘Women’s Football in West Asia: Moving Forward’ in January 2013 with the participation of women’s football experts, representatives of 12 West Asian member associations and other football organizations.
The West Asian associations received the guidelines produced by the discussion as well as 250 footballs to be used exclusively in women’s football, and the WAFF Women’s Football Committee was established.
UEFA refereeing course for West Asian women referees
In coordination with the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), AFDP lent its support to 8 talented female referees from West Asia to participate in the Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) program in Switzerland, sponsored by UEFA.
International Women’s Day Festival in Ramtha, Jordan
Under ‘Kick for Hope in Jordan’ and in partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA) and streetfootballworld, AFDP celebrated International Women’s Day 2014 today with a football festival in Ramtha for female Jordanians and Syrian refugees.
In addition to these initiatives, the majority of the AFDP-supported programs serve both boys and girls, e.g. Mr. Soccer in Australia, Taiwan Youth League, Football for All in Vietnam, Spirit of Soccer at the Zaatari refugee camp, and Football United in Myanmar.