Pakistan will take part in SAFF Women Championship: Khadim Shah

Cox’s Bazar to hold inaugural show

Lahore, 23 October : South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) is all set to organize women´s football among its member nations from 3-13 December 2010 when Bangladeshi town Cox’s Bazar will host inaugural SAFF women Championship,” this is stated by Syed Khadim Ali Shah, Senior Vice President (SVP) of SAFF.

Women football was included in the 11th South Asian Games for the first time last year to promote the development of football in South Asia. India had won gold medal in the competition that also included Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

“In a country whose population is predominantly Muslim and there is some resistance towards women’s football. The women’s game has struggled to gain a foothold in Bangladesh in the past and many tournaments dedicated to women have failed. Women’s football finally saw light in Bangladesh when the first ever women’s football tournament was staged under in November 2007. Eight teams especially from different district’s all over the country took part in the tournament and made it a success amidst security threats. In October 2008, first women’s school football tournament was held under the Vision Bangladesh programme with BFF hopeful of continuing and developing the women’s game in the country. Women’s football was included in the South Asian Games 2010 hosted in Dhaka while the first Women’s SAFF Championship is to be held in December in the country,” said Khadim.

The SAFF Championship for Men is held biannually which was launched at Lahore’s Railway Stadium in 1993 as SAARC Gold Cup; since 1997 onwards it is known as the SAFF Championship. Cox’s Bazar stadium, located 150 KM south of Chittagong, will be the inaugural venue of SAFF Women Championship. It is situated inside a town, a fishing port and district headquarters in Bangladesh. It is known for its wide sandy beach which is the world’s longest natural sandy sea beach. The modern Cox’s Bazar derives its name from Captain Cox (died 1799), an officer serving in British India. Cox’s Bazar is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Bangladesh, it has yet to become a major international tourist destination, due to lack of publicity.

Khadim added that Bangladesh Football Federation President Kazi Mohammed Salahuddin, after being elected SAFF President on 3 October 2009 had announced that five tournaments would be organized each year giving more emphasis on women and youth teams. He took over from All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) President Ganesh Thapa who was the SAFF President for eight years before Salahuddin.

The SAFF Executive Committee also mooted the plan to host a youth tournament. “The executive committee is planning to host some tournaments like youth competitions, a women’s and a club competition. The club tournament will be see the champion team of all the countries and will be held in every two years,” he said

Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat believes if the SAFF is functioned in proper way, the regional body will have a great impact on the AFC and the FIFA and the member countries will be financially benefited.

The SAFF Women Championship will be comprised of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. “The number of teams to participate in the SAFF has not been finalized yet.At least five teams of the 11th SAG shall participate, or there may be more than those five. Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan did not participate in the SAG football,” added by Khadim Shah who is also Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s Vice President.