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102 women team up to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Jordan

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Nov 28,2022 - Last updated at Nov 28,2022

For the first time in Jordan, the Global Goal League programme brought together 102 women from various governorates across the Kingdom to learn how to use sports to drive social change (Photo courtesy of Rise for Good)

AMMAN — For the first time in Jordan, the Global Goal League programme brought together 102 women from various governorates across the Kingdom to learn how to use sports to drive social change.

The league is part of the Global Goals World Cup (GGWCUP) launched in 2015 by Eir Soccer, a Danish non-profit sports association which targets women and young girls.

The programme was jointly implemented in Jordan by Eir Soccer, LaLiga Spain and Rise for Good.

LaLiga Spain is an organisation which aims to promote social action through sports, while Rise for Good is a Jordanian social enterprise founded in 2019 by HRH Princess Lara Faisal with the aim of building a community of “active global citizens”.

Over the course of the nine-month programme, each of the 10 all-female teams worked towards achieving one of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through community-based initiatives, while also competing in a five-a-side football tournament. 

The 2022 League players aged 18 to 48 were also admitted to the Eir Coach programme, which enabled them become “activist football coaches”, according to a Rise for Good statement made available to The Jordan Times. 

Their graduation ceremony was held on Saturday at the American Community School (ACS) in Amman, with the Keepers team crowned as the winners of the league. 

The teams were evaluated for their actions on and off the football field based on four categories, including the style reflecting their goal, engagement with the crowd, social action and the number of goals they scored during the tournament, the statement said.

In an interview with The Jordan Times, Princess Lara noted that “being part of a team aims to empower and amplify the voices of these women, who are united by their drive for action and social change”.

“They don’t play to win, but to change the world and make their communities better,” she added.

Aintzane Encinas, a retired Spanish football player and an ambassador for LaLiga, told The Jordan Times: “It was amazing witnessing these women’s growth into leaders and capable coaches eager to pass on what they learned to others in their community.”

Some of the coaches who recently completed the programme spoke with The Jordan Times about their learning experiences as well as their teams’ achievements and goals for the future.

Lanna Zakaria, 40, is a coach in the “Leaf a Mark” team, working on SDG 15 about life on land. 

Her team aims to raise social awareness, increase green spaces in Jordan and control desertification by planting fruit trees to enhance food security and support local farmers.

Zakaria, who has been a sports enthusiast ever since she was 10 years old, said that her favourite thing about football is playing in a team.

“Each woman on our team has something valuable to add, as every single one of us has a unique perspective and a different set of skills, which is why we can achieve more together than we can apart,” she told The Jordan Times, adding that her team’s goal is to plant one million trees by 2030. 

Waed Shawamreh, a 28-year-old Syrian living in the Zaatari refugee camp, is a coach for the Dream Team, which is working on SDG 5.

This sport “taught us important values such as teamwork, perseverance, respect and discipline”, Shawamreh told The Jordan Times, noting her belief in football’s ability to be a force that can affect positive change and unite people.

She is currently working on using the skills she gained through the programme to promote sports activities inside the camp. 

Twenty-five-year-old Raneem Abu Khalaf, who has a bachelor’s degree in Sports Rehabilitation, is a coach on the Keepers team, who also worked on SDG 15. 

“This experience allowed me to learn more about the joy of giving and helping others without expecting something in return,” she told The Jordan Times.

Abu Khalaf added that sports have the power to bring people together in a way that “nothing else can”. 

“Despite our different backgrounds, we as a team are united by a common goal, to be agents of change and empowerment in our communities,” she continued.

Samah Al Malahmeh, 23, is a physical education teacher and a coach on the Keepers team. 

“Being part of a team taught me how a series of small acts can affect major changes,” she told The Jordan Times. 

Fathia Musse, a 27-year-old Somali living in Jordan, is a coach on the Revive team, who is working on SDG 4, which is focused on quality education. 

She said that her team’s initiatives, which benefited over 4,000 women over a period of nine months, mostly focused on public schools where “physical education is not a priority”. 

The team conducted football training courses for female students, physical education teachers and mothers, who were also provided with daily exercise routines, in-body tests and dietary programmes, according to Malahmeh. 

“Physical education shouldn’t be a privilege and it isn’t any less important than academic education; as the saying goes: ‘a healthy body leads to a healthy mind’,” she told The Jordan Times.

The team’s uniforms, designed by Coach Shireen Al Kurdi, 38, are recycled t-shirts, decorated with handmade sewing patterns reflecting Jordanian culture, she added. 

The Revive team’s coaches didn’t want their work to stop after the programme ends, so they founded the Revival Community Foundation in Amman and Zarqa to continue working towards SDG 4.  

Afraa Al Rawi, 28, is a coach for the Phoenix team, who worked towards achieving SDG 5, which is focused on gender equality. 

The team’s football training initiatives, which aimed to “create a safe space for women to participate in sports”, were focused on marginalised and disadvantaged areas in Jordan’s northern governorates, Rawi said.

“This programme helped me build so many friendships and meaningful relationships which I am sure will last a lifetime,” she told The Jordan Times.

Other participating teams included the Beat Team - SDG 5, The Hunger Fighters - SDG 2, Sustainable Sport - SDG 17, Tourist Football - SDG 11 and Walkers – SDG 3.

The League will be re-launched in Jordan in the spring of 2023, with registration open to all women aged 18 and above who “want to make a difference in their community, feel the power of being part of a team and expand the scope of what sports can do for change”, according to Rise for Good. 

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