WASHINGTON, DC (5 July 2011) - The UAE Women's soccer team, in the midst of its first-ever visit to the United States for training and scrimmages, was formally welcomed by City officials to Philadelphia during a ceremony on Friday, July 1 at City Hall. Representatives from the Office of Mayor Michael Nutter, the Department of Legislative '&' Community Affairs and the Department of Parks '&' Recreation met with the UAE delegation, and briefed them on the history of Philadelphia and shared their views on the importance of sports and cultural exchanges.
The football team also visited South Philadelphia, where UAE players and coaches led a clinic for the Anderson Monarchs, a nationally-known club that provides high-level football training, competition and academic support to inner-city Philadelphia girls.
"The City of Philadelphia has been incredibly hospitable to us during our time here and officials honored the UAE women's football team with kind words and actions" said Dana Al Marashi, Head of the Heritage '&' Social Affairs Office for the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. "The day was topped off by the UAE players leading a clinic for the Anderson Monarchs, where the UAE players wanted to learn from the Anderson Monarchs just as much as they wanted to give back. And although they live thousands of miles apart and come from different backgrounds, the Emirati and Philadelphia girls share a common passion for the sport and are both role models at home."
Commenting on the clinic with the Anderson Monarchs, UAE Women's team captain, Hamda Abdulla said, "The enthusiasm shown by the Monarchs was an inspiration to the UAE players as they showed their skills on the ball." "I just want to thank the Independence and the United Arab Emirates team for coming out here," said Monarchs coach, Walter Stewart. "You can see the smiles on the kids' faces. They are really enjoying it. It's kind of unusual to have a soccer team in this neighborhood, but to have an international team come and see us is even better."
While in Philadelphia, the UAE Women's Football team visited local historical sites, including the Liberty Bell. The team was also received at a luncheon hosted by executives from the Philadelphia Sports Congress, an organization that supports the development of major sporting events in the City of Philadelphia. The event was attended by community leaders and business officials.
The UAE Embassy in Washington, DC has partnered with the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league Philadelphia Independence, to offer a program of joint coaching and training sessions, visits to several area youth clubs and community service activities in and around Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
The UAE women's soccer team is currently an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. Since 2008 team members have played on club teams and for the national team, winning matches throughout the region and playing friendly matches in Europe.