Saudi girls dream big with launch of football league - in pictures

The launch of Saudi Arabia's first women's football league on Monday will clear the way for girls who dream of turning professional

Players chosen for the first Saudi women's national football team, managed by veteran German Monika Staab, show off their skills at Prince Faisal bin Fahad bin Abdulaziz stadium in Riyadh.

The launch of Saudi Arabia's first women's football league on November 22 will open the door for hundreds of girls hoping to begin a professional career – and perhaps, one day, to take part in the Women's World Cup.

The country, which lifted a ban on women's football only a few years ago, wants to strengthen its women's national team in the hopes of taking part in international tournaments.

Among those excited by the move was Farah Jafri, who said she hoped to turn pro and play in England's top division for Manchester City, as well as represent her country on the biggest stage at the World Cup. "In the beginning of my football journey, I faced some difficulties in that not all people accepted it. But my family and friends used to encourage me a lot." Like many other girls who were passionate about football but unable to participate in competitions, Jafri played on the street with her relatives or at school with friends.

Saudi Arabia has so far set up three training centres across the country for girls between the ages of 13 and 17, with plans to establish up to nine by 2025

During a training session in Riyadh, the women in the national team took to the field at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, some of them without veils but wearing tracksuits under their shorts. Officials have yet to announce any sports clothing restrictions for the Saudi women, who in the past faced close scrutiny from the religious police, who enforced a strict dress code.

Updated: November 21st 2021, 8:10 AM