Women’s football gets a leg up with inaugural Kuala Lumpur women’s league

It started as a dream, and it became a reality last weekend.

That was how Khushairi Aizad Jamalludin explained the formation of the Kuala Lumpur Women’s Football Championship.

“I have been involved in grassroots and social leagues for a long time, and always wanted to do something for women,” said Khushairi, KL Women’s Football founder and director, on football talk show Rembat! last night.

“The idea was to start the league last year, but Covid-19 put paid to those plans.

“Even this year, we were not sure if we could get the league off the ground due to the various SOPs (standard operating procedures).

“However, we never stopped planning. The moment the government lifted restrictions, we got the league up and running within 30 days.”

Khushairi paid tribute to his team, including Farah Dhiba Abd Aziz, the league’s general coordinator, who joined Khushairi on Rembat!

The other members of the management team are Dr Idlan Zakaria, Shahnizman Saad, Norawati Abdullah and Arisa Nurfarina Isma Zaki.

“Idlan is attached to the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Her input has been invaluable. Most of the features on our website originated from her,” said Khushairi.

“As you can see, four of the six in the management team are women. Next year, Farah will play a bigger role as I will take a step back.”

Farah, a qualified coach and referee, said this was the first time she was a coordinator for a league.

“It has been extremely challenging, but I love what I do,” said Farah, who is also a personal trainer.

“I deal with the teams, ensure everyone follows the rules, and get everything organised. It is a steep learning curve. I have made mistakes, but thankfully, the opening weekend was a success.”

There are six teams in the championship – Setiawangsa Ranger, KL Sunbears, Catalan, Dinolove, Wonder Girls and Hypernova Girls.

The teams play each other twice, and the top two teams move on to the semi-finals. The final will be played at the Kuala Lumpur FA Stadium in Cheras.

“We are happy to start with six teams due to the short time. The plan is to have 10 to 12 teams next season,” said Farah.

“Also, Selangor’s women’s league begins later this month. Other players are going to be involved in that.

“For next season, we will speak to Selangor to plan the dates of the leagues. That way, the players can play in both championships. The more matches they get to play, the better it would be for their development.

“It would also benefit the national team as right now, women footballers do not have many matches a year.”

Farah hopes Kuala Lumpur and Selangor will inspire the other states to start their own leagues.

“Yes, there are many familiar faces. Some have been around for a long time. But that is good as their passion still burns bright,” said Farah.

“I know of one, Noorasyeimah Mohamad Rashid, who has forked out her own money to get extra goalkeeping training.

“She has played for the country, but she still wants to improve.

“I am also happy to see many new players recently. That gives me hope that we can grow women’s football in the country.

“Hopefully, more schools can organise football tournaments and not be blinded by gender and think that women cannot play football.

“Most of the time, boys get to play football, while girls play netball. Football is for everyone.”