With the Women’s Euros 2017 in full swing (and with the final taking place on Sunday August 6), there’s currently quite a buzz about female football globally.
Though the men’s game is the most-watched spectator sport in the world, the ladies’ version is fast-growing in popularity, with more and more women taking up the sport. This is also true here in Dubai, where there’s a burgeoning female football scene.
Jessica Prelle of the IFA, the largest grassroots football academy in the UAE, tells Time Out Dubai that she’s seeing a rise in interest from ladies wanting to get involved.
“I’ve played football here for the past 12 years and it’s certainly growing,” she says. “There are so many more opportunities now. The IFA has around 120 players and ten teams in its seven-a-side leagues. I get calls at least once a week from women who want to play, and from all levels.”
Training is held by Football Association- qualified coaches, and the IFA programme has ongoing summer camps and training sessions for girls aged four to 17 and women aged 15 and above. During the summer, there are friendly matches as well as training, which are held indoors at The Dome in Dubai Sports City.
From the end of September, the IFA Ladies League runs every Wednesday, while the IFA Girls League takes place on Thursdays in locations including the Emirates English Speaking School in Jumeirah.
“Some teams are very competitive, but if you’re not ready to commit the time, or are a beginner, you can always come to training sessions instead,” adds Prelle. “We have players from just four years old, and we’re breaking down the barriers – people are realising it’s not just a men’s sport.”
From Dhs50 (training sessions). For more information visit www.ifasport.com.