When the Berlin-based women’s football team Al-Dersimspor played the Iranian women’s team in April 2006, no one could have imagined the impact the match would have. Although it was clear that the game would make history – after all, this was the first women’s football match to be staged in public in an Iranian stadium since the 1979 revolution – it evolved into much more. Players and spectators alike were so enthusiastic about the event that they decided to continue playing football across national, political and cultural frontiers. So they initiated a tournament called “Discover Football”, for which women’s football clubs from all over the world travel to Berlin to play each other, exchange ideas and discuss women’s issues.
This year the Discover Football tournament, which is supported by the German Foreign Office, is being held for the third time. The motto for 2013 is “9 Countries – 8 Teams – 1 Language”. In Berlin they will play football, discuss gender equality and emancipation, and watch the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 in Sweden. The teams come from different countries each year. In 2013 squads are expected mainly from Arab countries – Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Libya and Tunisia – but also from Poland and Ukraine.
“With Discover Football we manage to bring teams together who would otherwise never meet,” says Sonja Klümper, one of the organizers. Some of the countries where the teams come from don’t have a national side, and those that do have one often don’t make it to the World Cup. “Discover Football also offers them a chance to play internationally,” says Klümper. The fact that the women are coming mainly from North Africa and the Middle East this year has to do with recent events. “It’s important to give Arab women an opportunity to talk about their rights and developments,” Sonja Klümper stresses.
Discover Football women’s football festival, 21–28 July 2013 in Berlin
UEFA Women’s EURO in Sweden, until 28 July 2013