Wednesday 23 November 2022, 03:00

Women’s football takes flight in Morocco

  • Passion for women’s football is growing in Morocco

  • 2020 marked a turning point for women’s game there

  • FIFA supporting progress with its Forward programme

Morocco defied all expectations when staging the 2022 CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, finishing runners-up to South Africa, the only side to beat them, 2-1 in the final. Their reward was debut qualification for the FIFA Women's World Cup™.

The hosts also surprised many off the pitch with the passion and fervour of the fans following the competition. The Moroccan Football Association (FRMF) has invested heavily in the women’s game in recent years and its efforts have not been in vain, a feat made even more impressive by the challenging backdrop of the pandemic.

“It’s been an especially dramatic time for everyone,” said FRMF Secretary General Tarik Najem. “Our goal was to get the league up and running again as quickly as possible after lockdown. And we managed to do it, not just in women’s football but across all categories. “We did it all in coordination with our country’s public health authorities, who brought in a series of measures,” he added. “It took a big effort in terms of funding, and we called on FIFA for their help.”

As part of FIFA’s Covid-19 relief plan, each member association was eligible for a €500,000 grant for women’s football, funding that has helped Morocco relaunch the sport. Thanks to the resumption of competition, the standard of play has improved dramatically and with it entertainment levels, which has attracted the fans in numbers. At the same time, more and more girls are taking up the game and showing their gift for it. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, obviously, but the talent is there,” said national U-17 women’s team coach Anthony Rimasson, whose side are about to make their world finals debut in the age group at India 2022. “Women’s football is still a pretty new sport in Morocco. It took a while to get the structures set up, but the game’s well organised now. We’re better able to spot the talented ones.” Having come through some difficult times, the women’s game in Morocco can look to the future with a great deal of optimism.