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Sudan plans women’s football league

‘A new reality,’ said Rayan Ibrahim Rajab, a 22-year-old at training with Tahadi women’s football club in Khartoum © AFP / Jean Marc MOJON

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Aug 21 – Sudan’s first ever women’s club football league will start next month, a federation official told AFP Wednesday.

The championship, which will involve 18 clubs separated in three regions, would have seemed unlikely only a year ago when Islamist general Omar al-Bashir was still in power.

“The women’s football league will start in the first week of September,” Mirvat Hussein, the top federation official in charge of women’s football, told AFP.

She said a national team was also in the works to represent Sudan in international events.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has no continental cup for women’s club football yet.

The announcement came on the same day as the swearing in of a joint military-civilian Sovereign Council in Sudan.

The body replaces a military council that took over in April when Bashir was forced from power by months of relentless protests.

In what was seen as a significant advance, the 11-member ruling council, two of the six civilians on the council are women.

Many Sudanese have voiced the hope that the three-year transition will see more liberal policies implemented across the country, including measures to advance freedom of speech and women’s rights and promote sport and arts.

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Speaking during a training session with her club Tahadi, 22-year-old Rayan Ibrahim Rajab said a women’s league would have been unlikely just a year ago.

“In the past, it was difficult for women to play football, there were many complications that prevented women from participating,” she said.

“Now everybody is looking for a new reality and has new ambitions,” Rajab added.

Sudan joined FIFA in 1948 and established the CAF along with Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa.

But women’s football has faced an uphill fight since the country adopted Islamic sharia law in 1983, six years after which Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup.

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