Women's Football Qatar
Exchange Champions in Sports and Life

The women's soccer exchange brings together 5 female
Qatari participants - coaches, players, sports leaders - to the United States. Sponsored by US Embassy in Qatar and Sports Diplomacy.

The program focuses on the development of women’s soccer and its symbolic and practical impact on women’s rights and sports entrepreneurship. Qatar will host, in 2022, the Soccer World Cup for men and one of the important connected legacy projects, this exchange wants to contribute to and promote, is increased recognition and support for the women’s game, an effort that has significance and impact not only in Qatar but also regionally and globally. This site will illustrate the exchange program, with stops in New York City, San Francisco and the Bay area and, later on, Doha and also showcase important developments, news, opportunities, related to women’s football in Qatar and the region. Join us in this journey of discovery and progress, having as guides and storytellers our participants and their peers.

Sports Diplomacy programs are international people-to-people exchanges that build mutual understanding and cooperation through sports. Programs bring together those interested in sports, recreation, and leadership to promote tolerance, cooperation, and life skills using the platform of sports teamwork. These programs also give participants confidence and leadership skills that allow them to succeed in life.
Meet the Participants
  • Shaima Abdullah A Al-Siyabi
    Football Player, Qatar Women’s National Football Team
    When she was little, Shaima used to go to her great aunt’s house every Friday and play football with her family. It was here that her love of the sport began. After launching a search for girls' clubs where she could play, she and her mother found Al Wajba Prep School for Girls; however, although they offered girls sports, they did not offer football. Due to her passion for athletics, she played most other sports that were offered to girls, and she was awarded numerous medals in gymnastics, basketball, handball, and others. She mainly played handball until she reached age 16, when football began being offered to girls. Around this time, she became a goalie for the Qatar women’s team. 
    Shaima has worked as a coach with Generation Amazing, a program for all skill levels that aims to improve skills like teamwork, communication, and good sportsmanship. She has also worked with the Qatar Foundation as a trainer for those with special needs, and as a coach for the Al Hilal Football Academy. Her favorite hobby, in addition to playing football, is coaching others in football.
    Shaima is looking forward to sharing Qatari culture with the U.S., learning more about American culture, and exchanging ideas about how to advance women’s football. She hopes that Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup will open the door for the country to host women’s football events of similar scale. Shaima also hopes that Qatar will be a leading country in the advancement of all sports.

  • Suaad Salim R Al Hashimi
    Football Player, Qatar Women’s National Football Team, Doha, Qatar
    When Suaad was young, she used to love going to Al Rayyan Sports Club matches with her father. At the time, football was not offered in the girls’ school curriculum, so she would sneak away and play with the boys in her neighborhood any chance she got. Because she was not allowed to play football, she played all the other sports she could sign up for: basketball, volleyball, handball, and track. In 2001, when the Women’s Sport Committee was organized, Suaad was chosen by her coach to be a part of the national basketball team where she stayed until the first women’s football team was established in 2011, and she was among the first to join.

    The team was small at its outset, so the players trained in futsal until Coach Helena Costa switched them from futsal to football. After the switch, they went to a training camp in Germany and played against local teams. Due to her perseverance and encouragement of her teammates, Suaad was named captain of the national team.
    Despite the team’s fervor, it had a rocky start. They played in two tournaments in Bahrain, one in futsal and the other in football, and they came in last place in both, losing all matches. They continued to play friendly matches against boys’ teams in Qatar, and even started to win some international matches, including one against Kuwait and one against Maldives. Despite this, the team’s last place finish in the 2016 East Asian Championship led to a decision for the team to focus on training and friendly matches until they improved. Around the same time, Suaad joined Alkhor Club and played with them in the first league. Suaad has played in several local futsal and football leagues.

    Suaad holds a degree in English Arts from Qatar Community College and currently works as an assistant underwriter at Al Koot Insurance & Reinsurance. She will soon go to Qatar University to pursue a bachelor's degree in English Literature. In her free time, Suaad enjoys DJing for formal events and traveling. She has traveled to the United States, Thailand, Germany, Maldives, and Turkey.
    Suaad wants to take what she learns about U.S. women’s football in this program and use it to take Qatar women’s football to the next level. She views this program as an opportunity to see what it takes to be a good coach so that she can help young girls achieve more athletically. Suaad also wants to share Qatari culture with others. She hopes that women’s football can gain more attention and stability in the future and wants to be a part of developing more football academies and afterschool programs in Qatar.

  • Dwana Khalifa
    Football Player, Qatar Women’s National Football Team, Doha, Qatar
    Dwana’s love of football started at the age of five, when her father, who had been a football player in Sudan, started taking her to games with him. She grew up playing soccer with her brothers and neighborhood friends and loved watching and analyzing football matches with her father, who used to make her training schedules so she could learn the basics. Since childhood, Dwana’s dream has been to play football; this dream was shared by one of her brothers, who has since played on the Qatar Men’s National Football Team.
    After playing on and representing the Qatari Women’s National Team, Dwana began participating in many trainings and events across many fields. She has participated in Qatar’s annual School Olympics Day Championship, both as a player and referee, and has enjoyed seeing so many young players with so much potential. Recently, Dwana and the coach of the Qatar Women’s National Team opened the Elite Girls Training Academy, an organization with a fully female staff that seeks to develop athletic talent in girls and improve their futures. She thinks this academy will be a football empire for girls.
    As a supporter of women’s football all over the world, and as a self-proclaimed fan of the U.S. women’s national team, Dwana expects that she will learn a great deal about the way that women’s football has developed in the United States and about the culture surrounding it. She believes that, in addition to the physical aspect of football, there are also psychological and moral aspects that form the basis of the game and determine things like focus and improvement for coaches and players. She would like to learn more about these aspects of the game during the exchange, which she believes will benefit her both in sports and in life more generally.
    Dwana is optimistic for the future of women’s football in Qatar and has taken an active role in contributing to it. She believes that the world has a right to know about Qatar and Qatari football culture, and that women football players have a bright future. Her wish is to see the Qatari Women’s National Team participating in international meets, including the World Cup, in the coming years.

  • Hagar Nader Nessim Aziz Saleh
    Football Player; Generation Amazing Youth Advocate
    Hagar’s football journey began at the age of six, when she joined Aspire Academy, a Qatari sports academy, which allowed her to try out different sports and develop her athleticism as a child. She was chosen to be an ambassador for Generation Amazing, an organization that uses football to inspire positive social change in Qatar and globally, to represent Qatar in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Through this experience, she learned how communities can change, evolve, and improve through football. Her most memorable achievements in the world of football include reaching the semi-world cup final in Neymar Jrs’ Five football tournament championship and acquiring her B-coaching license at the age of 23.
    Outside of football, she worked as a guide with an adventure company for five years, an experience which allowed her to learn how to interact with people of all ages, mentalities, personalities, and backgrounds. She loves all things outdoors: kayaking, boating, hiking, and water sports, among others. She is a master free diver in addition to being a certified lifeguard.
    During this exchange, Hagar hopes to meet professionals, including businesspeople and players in the field of football. In her view, women's football culture in Qatar is still in the initial stages of development, but there are steady steps being taken to build a recognizable entity that will be able to compete internationally one day. One reason for this belief is Hagar’s view that girls have more opportunities to participate in sports and sports culture than they did when she first started playing. Her hope is to leave an impact on the Qatari women's football community through both playing and coaching, and providing opportunities for young people, especially girls, to play football more freely.

  • Abeer Ahmed Al-Kuwari
    Women’s National Football Team Manager and Member of the Qatar Women’s Sports Committee, Qatar Football Association, Doha, Qatar
    Abeer describes herself as being quite fond of football, a statement underscored by her experience working with the Qatar Football Association since 2003. In 2002, she earned a bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Sports Sciences. In 2009, she formed a team that participated in the first Futsal Championship of the Women’s Sports Committee. Her team won the prize, and she was nominated as an administrator for the team by Mrs. Ahlam Al-Mana, former chairperson of the Women’s Sports Committee. It was here that her career in women’s football formally began. At the time, there were only six trained players, so visits were made to schools in order to select players to join the national team. In 2013, Abeer was appointed Director of the Women’s National Football Team, and in 2021, she became a member of the Women’s Football Committee. She holds certificates in the management of Qatar Olympic Sports Institutions and in the Management of Major Events from Qatar’s Josoor Institute. Abeer is currently working to form a football academy for girls between the ages of 4 and 8 which can facilitate participation in camps and tournaments, both in Qatar and abroad. Aside from her career in women’s football, Abeer enjoys going for walks and watching sports matches.
    Through this program, Abeer hopes to further contribute to the development of women’s football in Qatar by learning about women’s football culture in the U.S. and how society interacts with it. As for the future of women’s football in Qatar, she hopes to see participation in friendly matches and international tournaments with countries outside of the Middle East and East Asia. She also hopes to continue developing strategies for improving the game and supporting women to participate in it by opening sports and talent centers.

Exchange Diary 
How is the experience of the Exchange for the participants? Read their blogposts! 

News about Qatar Women's football 

by the Exchange Participants 

Media reporting on Women's football
in Qatar and MENA region
  • The International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI) is an annual sports grant competition for U.S.-based nonprofits to administer two-way exchanges that engage underserved youth, coaches, and sports administrators.

    Through sports, ISPI supports youth around the world to develop important leadership skills, achieve academic success, and promote tolerance and respect for others. The programs highlight the theme of Sport for Social Change and advance foreign policy goals while reaching key audiences, including at-risk youth, women, girls, minorities, persons with disabilities, and non-English speakers
  • The International Sports Programming Initiative uses sports to promote tolerance and respect for diversity and to help underserved youth around the world develop important leadership skills and achieve academic success.The International Sports Programming Initiative includes two-way, multi-phased exchange programs funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division. The program aims to include marginalized groups as participants, including women, girls, non-English speakers, and individuals with disabilities. The program also directly supports a goal of youth empowerment and development by equipping exchange participants with the knowledge and skills to become active and responsible members of their communities and the global arena. The skills developed through the exchange programs contribute to safer, more inclusive environments in communities across the region, and increased opportunities for young people. The program also funds trainers/experts and community sports leaders from the U.S. to travel to the region for each exchange program to work with youth athletes and organizations in local communities.
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