There’s only so much we know about girls’ football, but IFA Sport knows it all. Jessica Prelle, head of Girls & Women’s Football at IFA Sport, has got us all excited about Dubai’s budding female footballers.
“We offer girls-only sessions from the age of four to keep them motivated. When girls participate in mixed sessions, more often than not they tend to feel a little bit left out, not getting passed to, or even ignored by their male teammates,” she says.
Team spirit is in the air for the Girls’ Academy’s mini footballers. Not only do they share a common love for the sport, but they also develop friendships along the way. To ensure that happens, coaches try to keep it all positive -- no shouting from the sidelines! Female coaches make it a lot more comfortable for the girls, and it has been working well so far.
“Within the past year and a half, we’ve built a girls’ academy consisting of 40 girls aged four to 12, plus 20 players in our programme for teenagers aged 13 to 17,” says Prelle. “We’re the only academy offering a pathway into women’s football, with around 35 women regularly training together under the IFA.”
The Academy covers all basic skills including passing, dribbling and shooting, so no session is like the one before. Kids can progress while always having game time available to them. “As groups are split by ages and abilities, all girls are welcome. Whether she has never kicked a ball before or is an accomplished athlete – everybody will get quality training,” explains Prelle.
While still facing occasional stereotyping, IFA Girls’ Football is proud of the fact that there are only a few academies that offer the same programmes, despite this making finding opponents a more difficult task.
Expect more tournaments and free girls’ football festival, too. Sounds good to us!
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IFA Sports, Barsha Heights, Dubai (04 454 1683).
Abu Dhabi football schools
Pass Abu Dhabi
This school offers football coaching for two- to 12- and five- to 14-year-olds separately, and organises the Abu Dhabi Youth League which has over 80 teams.
The region’s only scouting academy, LaLiga is open to kids aged four to 18, with training delivered by UEFA Pro-certified coaches.
At this academy, young players aged three to 18 are challenged on the physical, psychological, tactical, and technical aspects of football.