The UAE’s national carrier takes another step to promote the world’s most beautiful sport.
April 2012 marked the humble beginnings of its first ever Women’s Football Team. Not more than 5 players showed up for the first training session which was open to all staff – experienced players, amateurs and beginners.
Week after week, new faces came in, a few bringing in skills and most carrying only pure passion with them – but passion so promising that if they’re not flying, they’re learning to play.
On July 30, 2012, the 3-month-old team joined its first official game, the women’s five-a-side football tournament in Abu Dhabi’s Armed Forces Officers Club Ramadan Festival.
The team’s top challenge is having all the players together at one time. Since 90% of the team are cabin crew, trainings and practice games involved a lot of roster planning, off requests and flight swaps.
For this festival, the Etihad Sports Committee, had to change and fix rosters to free the chosen players for the 3-day match. Unfortunately, the rest of the team still had to fly, accomplishing their work duties even if they wanted so bad to be there as support.
Another tough challenge was the absence of an official team coach. Since the start of practices, able player-leaders stepped up to coach and form the team’s core drills and sessions.
”Football has taken over my life. I have all these sketches of plays and tactics all over my room, ” says player-coach Faye Smith.
The lone keeper was a first-timer in this sport but that didn’t stop her from playing like a pro.
The Spain Team (International Golden Group) delivered a powerful statement of their intent to win the women’s football competition at the ongoing 16th Armed Forces Officers’ Club (AFOC) Ramadan Festival when they trounced Etihad Airways in their opening match late on Tuesday night. – Gulf News
It was a landslide win for the opposing team. Etihad lost its first game to the well-fit, highly trained Spanish team but the score did nothing to dampen the crew’s fighting spirit.
”It’s important that everyone plays and have fun,” Imen, the strength of the defense line, constantly reminds the team of its purpose.
It is a great honor to play for an airline that has placed Abu Dhabi in the map of the world. Everytime I wear that shirt, I am driven by determination to be a better, faster, stronger player who is worthy of that golden name.
All photos are the property of Etihad Sports Committee