Saudi Arabia women’s national football team has seized its first international tournament, and as described by head coach Monika Staab, this is an “important milestone” in the country’s football.
The kingdom’s national women’s team finished top of the four-team Women’s International Friendly Tournament in the Eastern Province, with Thursday’s 1-1 draw in the finale against Pakistan securing their place in the history books. Saudi had in the past week defeated Mauritius and Comoros. Pakistan finished runners-up.
“Winning this tournament is an important milestone in Saudi Arabian football and will give the players huge confidence as they progress their national team careers,” said Monika Staab. “I am delighted with the players and how they performed over the past three games – it provides a huge springboard for future success. It is a success that very much constitutes inspiration for young girls across every corner of Saudi Arabia as well as the other talented, young players in the Premier League who aspire to play international football,” she added.
This tournament marked the first time a women’s 11-a-side international tournament had been hosted in Saudi Arabia. The team’s success reinforces the progress made within the women’s football in the kingdom since the establishment of a dedicated women’s football department at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) in 2019.
Saudi Arabia now has 520 registered players and around 50,000 girls in the inaugural schools’ league. The first regional women’s football league was launched in 2021 with 16 teams, with an eight-team Premier League introduced in October 2022. The competition was renamed the “First Division Women’s League,” made up of 17 teams competing across three cities. In all, there are 25 clubs across two divisions.
Following Saudi Arabia’s win at the tournament last week, Lamia Bahaian, supervisor of the Women’s Football Department and board member at the SAFF, said in a statement, “This is a momentous day in Saudi Arabian football, and we congratulate the talented players in the women’s national team, as well as all the management, coaching and staff members, on this wonderful achievement. We are all very proud.” She continued, “Winning this tournament will inspire many young girls across the kingdom to become involved in football and experience all the joys that the beautiful game offers.” She added, “We thank each of Comoros, Pakistan, and Mauritius for coming to Saudi Arabia to participate in the tournament, wish them the best of luck in their own women’s football development initiatives, and look forward to facing them on the field again in the future.”