“For many girls this is the first time they've played an organised sport”

La Fundación creates a FutbolNet program in Oman for 120 girls It's the first extracurricular football program for girls in the country

La Fundació FC Barcelona’s first ‘FutbolNet’ course for Omani girls comes to a close this June after opening the doors to sport for a number of Omani girls, many of whom had never played any kind of organised sport – a reflection of the limited access to sport which women have in the country, which can normally only be enjoyed behind doors. In fact, ‘FutbolNet’ is the first
out of school football activity organised for girls in Oman. After a successful first course held just for boys, La Fundació worked intensively to set up a similar course for girls, which began in January in the central city of Masqat with 120 participants aged between 8 and 16.

It all started in the offices of the University of Muscat, Oman. Last season, the technical directors of the FC Barcelona Foundation met with Princess Muna Bint Fahad Al Saeed to update her on FutbolNet’s progress in its inaugural year in the country. The princess, who is very pleased with project, said: “It would be fantastic if this was made available to girls!”

The ball glides across the pitch at Sultan Qaboos School in Masqat, and Princess Muna accompanies the girls to a FutbolNet session. The small group of women have permission to enter the indoor pitch for session in which photography and man aren’t allowed. Among the group is Lola Bou, vice-president of La Fundación. “It’s a giant step forward. We feel as though we’ve opened a door,” she said.

‘FutbolNet’ is a method of transmitting values through football which is practiced twice a week in two hour sessions. In Oman, the course is divided into six areas where different games based on football are played in order to develop values such as commitment, respect, tolerance, teamwork, responsibility and hard work. Sundus Al Riyami, a 10-year-old participant, said: “The values I’m learning help me when I go to school and when I am at home and I talk with my parents. For example, working in a team helps me at school with my classmates and my teacher. The Barça players also play with these values like teamwork because they help each other and at the same time they have their own responsibility and respect the others”.

Sarah Boehm, monitor of the FutbolNet Oman girls’ group, who has been living in Oman for six years, said: “This project means a lot for the girls because there aren’t many sporting projects here for them.I remember when we started, it was the first time many of the children had ever played a sport.”

Before the session is over, the small cadre of women leave the girls to their training. Smiling, and leaving behind a chorus of cheers and giggles from the FutbolNet participants, Princess Muna said: “I’m very impressed with the project.”