OCA Gender Equity Committee Chair Sheikha Hayat gives women's futsal thumbs up

© Bahrain Olympic Committee
© Bahrain Olympic Committee

Kuwait City, Kuwait, May 21, 2022: Sheikha Hayat Abdulaziz Al-Khalifa, the chair of the Olympic Council of Asia’s Gender Equity Committee, gave the thumbs up after watching an enthralling women’s futsal encounter between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates at the Gulf Games on Saturday, May 21.

For the record, Bahrain from where Sheikha Hayat hails, defeated UAE

5-3 to march into the gold medal final where they will come up against Kuwait on Monday, May 23.

But while cheering her country, Sheikha Hayat was more pleased at the high standards shown by both teams as they put on an eight-goal extravaganza which had a large crowd at the Sheikh Saad Al Abdullah Multi Sports Complex on the edge of their seats.

“It was an amazing match and I’m really happy because the technical skills of both teams were extremely high. This is what I want to see.

It is well and good calling for equality in numbers between men and women. But that is of no use if the standards are low in women’s sport. What we saw today was just amazing,” summed up a pleased Sheikha Hayat.

Bahrain had to ward off a stiff challenge from the Emirati women who took the lead twice in the first half before the pre-tournament favourites came back to level the score. At half-time the match hung in the balance with the score tied at 3-3.

“I told the girls it was do-or-die in the second half,” revealed Bahrain captain Yasmeen Tobellah. “There was a lot of pressure on us, it was a semi-final and they came at us hard. But thankfully we stepped up a gear in the second half.”

A raucous Bahraini cheer squad in the stands were silenced in the fourth minute when the masked Nouf Mushaal Al-Adwan fired a shot from outside the circle which skidded into the net. But the fans were back in full cry minutes later when skipper Tobellah’s cross found Hessa Alisa who side-footed the equaliser.

UAE added two more goals in the first half, Amaa Al-Mheiri grabbing the brace, but they couldn’t shake off their fancied opponents who stayed on par through goals from Tobellah and Manar Yaqoob.

The second half was all grim determination from both teams. Bahrain’s Alanood Al-Khalifa broke the deadlock with less than two minutes on the clock, knocking in a rebound, before an own goal by Al-Adwan gave Bahrain safe passage into the final.

The second semi-final between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia was a thriller with both teams level on 1-1 at the end of regulation time. The match went into overtime and at the end of the second period of overtime, both teams were tied again, each scoring a goal. In the penalty shootout, Kuwait prevailed 3-1, much to the joy of the home fans.