Harrow Council and Middlesex FA launched The Middlesex Women Desi League
A new five-aside-football league – the first of its kind in the capital – has been set up to attract more Asian and ethnic minority players in North West London
The Middlesex Women Desi Football League – a joint project by Harrow Council and Middlesex FA – has already won recognition from football’s national governing body The FA. It is open to all women’s football teams but is particularly aimed at attracting BME players.
The league first ran as a pilot in September and four teams from across Harrow and Brent took part in a six-week tournament. Following positive feedback, Harrow Council decided to support the league on an on-going basis and it re-launches in February. The Council is covering the cost of renting training and match facilities and offering to fund coaching courses.
Sheena Hirani, 25, from Harrow, set up the league in partnership with Middlesex FA after recognising that there was a growing demand in the area. She has just completed her FA Level 2 Coaching Qualifications, with help from Harrow Council’s Sports Development Team, and is working for Barnet FC and QPR Community Trust as a casual coach. Sheena said, “I wanted to set up the league to give Asian females an opportunity to play and encourage more women and girls from Harrow and Brent to participate in football. We started on a small scale with just a few teams so we could gauge their response. The feedback we received was positive and I now want to get more teams from all backgrounds involved.”
Harrow Council Leader Cllr Susan Hall, the Council’s first Woman leader, said, “Football has for a long time been seen as a man’s game but is increasingly becoming more popular with women and girls and we are seeing many rising talents among female players. This league not only encourages more women to play but also reflects the diverse cultural make-up of our borough. I hope to see more projects like this in the future.”
Ciara Allan, Women and Girls Football Development Officer for Middlesex FA, said “Female football across the county has grown dramatically over the last year and continues to do so. As a County FA we are doing everything we can to offer flexible formats of the game which are truly designed to recruit and retain players within the sport that we all love. The Desi division has been a fantastic programme and alongside the newly formed friendly division we are pleased to offer an innovative approach to re-engaging females.”