Set to be named ‘The Middlesex Women Desi Football League’, the competition has been recognised by the English Football Association. Desi is a commonly used Sanskrit term for the people and cultures of the Indian subcontinent and South Asia.
The organisers say that the League is open to all women’s football teams, but mainly targeting black and ethnic minority players.
The initiative was started by Sheena Hirani, aged 25, a young coach with Barnet FC, and a community coach with Championship Queens Park Rangers FC, after recognising that there was a growing demand in the area.
She 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.”
The league first ran as a pilot scheme in September and four teams from across the areas of Harrow and Brent took part in a six-week tournament.
After getting positive feedback on the tournament, Harrow Council will support the league when it is re-launched in February.
Harrow Council leader Councillor Susan Hall, who was the borough’s first female leader, said in support of the league: “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, added: “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.”