Thursday 29 December 2022, 08:00

Jordanian women's football on the up as flame lit in 2016 grows ever brighter

  • FIFA Forward funding supporting women’s football in Jordan

  • West Asian nation commenced new U-14 competition following on from professional league in 2018

  • Growth continues legacy after hosting 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

The recent FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ proved to be a historic tournament in the Arab world, one that will long be remembered for its breakthrough achievements both on and off the field. Though garnering fewer headlines, the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup™ remains an equally landmark event. It was the first and, to date, only women’s World Cup hosted in West Asia and its importance still resonates to this day for host nation Jordan.

Legacy and long-term growth for both Jordanian women’s football, and the region, was a key focus of the tournament for both FIFA and the Jordan Football Association [JFA]. “The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was a great milestone for Jordan, JFA and Jordanian clubs, and it has changed the mentality of people and pushed them forward to support women’s football across the country and for all age groups,” said Nisreen Al-Khazaaleh, Head of Women’s Football and Women’s Competitions at the JFA.

Jordan women's football youth development

Both the world governing body and JFA have continued to maintain that vision from Jordan 2016, with the recently concluded first edition of the FIFA Forward-funded national U-14 Championship tangible evidence of ongoing incremental growth in the local women’s football structure. Also introduced was a FIFA Safeguarding program for representatives of women’s clubs, further encouraging the assigning of safeguarding officers. “FIFA Funding has proven very important and been fundamental in helping the JFA and Jordanian clubs to develop the game and keep on enhancing career path for players,” says Al-Khazaaleh. “That is especially true for women’s football which generally has no specific sponsors and suffers from a lack of financial resources.” The FIFA Women's Football Development Program has facilitated the JFA with access to experts, equipment, technical, and financial support, as well as a career path for local female coaches. The result is that various fields have achieved milestones over the past few years, including administration, technical, and education, all with a view to ensuring the game's sustainable and continuous growth.

Women’s football in Jordan has long enjoyed a strong platform, but the growth has been exponential over the past decade. The national team qualified for their debut AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2014 and reprised the feat four years later. Jordan have also been the most dominant team in the region winning the West Asian Football Federation Women's Championship a record five times, including the inaugural iteration in 2005, and the most recent edition this year. Less than two years after the elite of U-17 women’s footballers visited Jordan, the nation established a professional league: the first in the region. Now the competition is strong enough to attract players from Africa and also regional countries such as Lebanon.

Building a legacy

Al-Khazaaleh says the JFA are focussed on developing all aspects of the local women’s game, be it female players, coaches, referees or administrators. But how much scope is there to further grow women's football in Jordan? “We are at the Jordan Football Association are working hard on developing the game at different levels and age groups, and also trying to spread the game to include all the girls who live in remote areas. We are also working on creating a career path for the players from an early age by applying school program and grassroots centres.”

It seems welcoming the world to Jordan in 2016 has lit a flame which is now burning brighter than ever. “Hosting that tournament has built an amazing legacy for Jordan and motivated JFA to host more Asian and international competitions,” said Al-Khazaaleh. “It has also helped build a huge base of qualified personnel who have the passion for women’s football and are now working within these competitions.”

Key objectives

FIFA will achieve its objectives by executing a five-pronged strategy to:

Govern & lead … strive for gender balance

Every MA will have one spot on its Executive Committee dedicated to the interests of women and by 2026 have at least one woman seated, while by 2022, at least one-third of FIFA committee members will be women. Strengthen and expand the Female Leadership Development Programme and improve professionalisation and regulatory oversight.

Educate and empower

Address and bring focus to specific social and health issues and reach out to NGOs and government stakeholders to develop sustainable projects that improve the lives of women.

Develop and grow … on and off the pitch

By 2022, have women’s football strategies in 100% of member associations, and by 2026, double the number of MAs with organised youth leagues. Expand football in school programmes, create elite academies and increase the number of qualified coaches and referees, vastly improving access to the game for girls.

Showcase the game … improve women’s competitions

Optimise regional qualifying for FIFA competitions and develop those events to build top-level players at a young age. Advance and launch new international competitions and improve the professional club framework.

Communicate & commercialise … broaden exposure & value

Advance awareness of top female athletes and raise the profile of women’s football by enhancing engagement, harnessing technology, implementing a distinct brand strategy and using role models and ambassadors as well as a dedicated Women’s Legends Programme. By 2026, launch a Women’s Football Commercial Programme.