News / Europe

Arab Women Participate in Berlin Soccer Clinic

Discover Football web site
Discover Football web site
Michael Scaturro
Women's soccer is growing in popularity around the world.  But opportunities for training and financial support still lag behind the men’s game in most places. A program held every summer in Berlin aims to change this. It is called Discover Football, and it brings soccer clubs from Africa and the Middle East to Germany for a week of matches and panel discussions. 
 
Aya El Ammouri, a soccer player from Lebanon,  is quite good at the game, having played it for nine years. But who is one of her biggest supporters?  She said it is her father.
 
“He always encouraged me. He actually paid a professional coach to train me," Ammouri noted. "I was really skilled and he was like ‘give her special training sessions. I want her to get better and better.'”
 
When she was a little older though, she said her father had second thoughts.
 
"He was like 'you've had enough of football, and now you have to look forward to your education. You have to get married.," Ammouri said, admitting her disappointment. 
 
But she did not stop, and her father eventually came around. Today, Aya El Ammouri is one of her country's top women players.
 
She and her teammates won scholarships to Discover Football. The week-long program brings about 100 women to Berlin every summer for soccer games and seminars on how to advance women’s football and women’s rights. It is also seen as a networking opportunity for the next generation of female leaders from the Middle East and Africa.
 
Next to Aya on the bleachers was Nadia Assaf. Nadia is team captain and founder of Girls Football Academy, Lebanon's first women's soccer academy. She said before she founded the academy five years ago, women's soccer was not taken seriously in her country. 
 
"It's like a side thing, just to say that they have a women's 'team.' They never took us seriously," Assaf said. "Women were never the priority. We never really got equipment. We never got field time, coaches, etc. etc."
 
Nadia said one day she and her partner, who was coaching a boys team, had an idea.
 
"Why don't we open an academy just for girls? That way they could have priority and we can give the girls what they actually deserve," she explained.
 
And things are improving for women soccer players in Lebanon and around the Middle East. Zein Zeintwal of Jordan said her family and friends are very supportive of her interest in the sport.
 
"It's really cool nowadays. But when I started it was like 'you're weirdo' and so on," she explained. "But now it's really famous and people are watching us like men."
 
"When I started playing, I used to play handball and soccer and basketball in school. But I became more attached to soccer than the others," she added. "I always used to watch people playing soccer and so on, and liked it the most. That's it."
 
Discover Football is sponsored by the German government and the European Union. The event serves as the cultural program for the Women's European Cup. But it has not been free of controversy. That is because European soccer's governing body, UEFA, scheduled the games during Ramadan. As a result, women's teams that had attended in the past, like Saudi Arabia's, sat out this year. Still, six teams from the Middle East and Africa attended the most recent program. 

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid