Sudan’s first-ever women’s club football league kicked off Monday, with two teams clashing in front of crowds of fans and diplomats inside a Khartoum stadium.
This is a historical game not only for women’s sport but for Sudan,” said Sudan’s new Minister of Sport, Wala Essam told reporters, according to AFP.
“We will give special attention to women’s sport and women’s football.”
“Civilian rule, Civilian rule,” chanted the crowd as the first match between the two teams began.
Crowds clapped and whistled, with many also chanting “Kandaka, Kandaka,” referring to ancient Nubian queens.
The start of the women’s club football league comes amid expectations that the current three-year transition period will see liberal policies implemented across the country, including measures to promote freedom of speech, women’s rights, sport and arts.
Sudan joined FIFA in 1948. In 1957, Sudan co-founded the Confederation of African Football with Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa at a meeting in Khartoum. The women’s championship, which involves 21 clubs, would have seemed unlikely just months ago when long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was in power.
The first club match was played between Tahadi and Difaain in the capital on Monday. Matches are also scheduled for Madani, Al-Obeid and Kadugli.