Yesterday, Sudan’s much anticipated women’s soccer league finally kicked off and saw two teams going against each other at the Khartoum Stadium. Sudan’s new Minister of Sport Wala Essam and a number of foreign diplomats attended the match amid a vibrant crowd. The establishing of the league comes after the country has recently entered into a coalition government between the military and civilians. The coalition government, under the leadership of the newly elected Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, will govern Sudan during a three-year transitional period that will eventually cede power over to civilians.
In the wake of the new coalition government which includes two women, it is expected that more liberal policies will be implemented across the country during this time. Back in 1983, Sudan adopted the Islamic Sharia law a few years prior to Omar al-Bashir seizing power in a military coup and since then, women’s soccer has faced an uphill battle.
Speaking about the historic moment, Essam said that, “This is a historical game not only for women’s sport but for Sudan.” He added that, “We will give special attention to women’s sport and women’s football.”
Back in 2015, there were only two women’s soccer teams in Sudan according to Aljazeera. One of those teams was and is still known as “The Challenge”—the unofficial national women’s soccer team captained by Sara Edward. However, the team has historically struggled with having to contend with societal taboos and a lack of funding from both the Sudan Football Association and the international governing body FIFA.