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How Covid Hit Women’s Football In The Middle East

The founder of a Dubai-based football club has opened up about the tough period the women’s teams have faced – though he looks forward to the bounce back after the pandemic.

Mehran Rowshan, who runs Alliance Football Club, has explained how COVID-19 measures have caused many limitations to the girl’s team and their operations – but training has continued throughout.

“There’s certainly been a lot of safety protocols we have had to stick to,” he explains, “Authorities like FIFA and the CDC have been strict on ensuring our facilities aren’t adding to the spread.”

The club, which started in 2015, has provided a hub for discovering and developing both male and female players –their girls and women’s teams have seen incredible success after years of having no outlet for aspiring female players in the Middle East.

“Even throughout the pandemic, the desire from the girls to play is there,” Mehran adds, “This place is a hive for players – we’re adding more and more training sessions for ladies so they can develop to the best of their potential and play at the highest level.”

The club strives to give girls and women the best chance to experience everything football can offer beyond the sport itself – teaching them to lead and compete in an environment where girls have historically been told football is not for them.

Providing training and teams for female players aged eight and above, the club is run by all-female coaches who inspire the players to become part of one of the world’s most adored sporting games. 

During the pandemic, they ensured that all of their coaching and administration staff were vaccinated, with at least one health and safety officer (UK Level 3) always present during the training sessions.

Mehran adds that they’ve been adhering to rules throughout restrictions: “We’ve been training since last May and the limitations have certainly been tough – as a youth organization the safety of our players is the top priority.

“We change the bibs every session and ensure that there’s temperature screening every day – it’s all paid off so far as there’s not been a single case inside the club.”

While things in the UAE aren’t looking to get better anytime soon, as COVID restrictions remain firmly in place, Mehran and the staff at Alliance look forward to getting entirely back on track when restrictions do ease: “The obvious challenge is to overcome this phase – and it will be tough. 
“But we’ve proved that we can still thrive under these conditions and we’re excited for the long run.”

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