Across the Arab world, women’s foot­ball is start­ing to be taken se­ri­ously.

Arab News - - SPORTS -

A lot will de­pend on whether Jor­dan can re­pro­duce their form of the past cou­ple of years against West Asia’s teams when it re­ally mat­ters against the con­ti­nent’s stronger na­tions.

But the tour­na­ment is about more than goals and re­sults.

At the turn of the cen­tury, women’s foot­ball across the Arab world barely ex­isted in any mean­ing­ful sense.

That is not sur­pris­ing, for a host of so­ciopo­lit­i­cal, cul­tural, sport­ing and lo­gis­ti­cal rea­sons.

We live in a dif­fer­ent land­scape now. Jor­dan con­tin­ues to blaze a trail for Arab women’s teams. In 2016, the coun­try hosted the U17 women’s World Cup, which was won by North Korea. Jor­dan were knocked out af­ter los­ing to Spain, Mex­ico and New Zealand.

Yet the 16-team tour­na­ment was Jor­dan’s first FIFA-sanc­tioned com­pe­ti­tion and em­pow­er­ment has come from high places.

“To have young girls play­ing sports, and play­ing foot­ball specif­i­cally, can do so much to change at­ti­tudes and per­cep­tions as to how so­ci­ety per­ceives women,” said Jor­dan’s Queen Ra­nia.

“If a Jor­da­nian woman wants to play foot­ball, I say ‘go for it.’ Be­cause you are a role model for so­ci­ety, for chang­ing tra­di­tional

TRAIL­BLAZER: Maysa Jbarah (L) of Jor­dan tus­sles for the ball with Viet­nam op­po­nent Nguyen Thi Nga dur­ing the AFC Women’s Asian Cup tour­na­ment in 2014. (AFP)

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