Today marks a special day, as the non-profit organisation Equal Playing Field broke a world record of magnitude (or should we say altitude?!) in Jordan. Meanwhile, tomorrow is the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup which kicks off in Amman, Jordan, a day that will also go down in history as it is the first time an Arab country hosts the tournament. This is really the time to keep your eyes peeled at Jordan, where awesome women are making history.
We’ll start with Equal Playing Field, a grassroots non-profit organisation that fights gender inequality in sports. The organisation focuses on empowerment programs as well as grassroots training through partnerships on a local as well as international level. In 2017 they did something mind blowing and amazing, when a group of female football players from more than 20 countries climbed to the top of the Mount Kilimanjaro and managed to play a game of football at an altitude of 5714m, which makes them the world record holders for the highest altitude game of football, across gender and time.
Now they have taken it one step further, and as of today they are also the world record holders of the lowest altitude game of football in the world, as the Black Iris’ won 4-2 against the White Tigers at the Dead Sea in Jordan, which is the lowest point on earth with an altitude of -320m. Before the game the players trekked more than 90 km across the country, sharing the love for women’s football and promoting gender equality, through exhibition games and football camps.
Simply an amazing initiative and WHAT A FEAT, pulled off in the name of gender equality. I stumbled over their instagram a couple of months ago (shortly after the Kilimanjaro trip I think) and since then I’ve closely monitored their progress, leading up to this moment. I get all jittery just thinking about everything that they are accomplishing, how these women from all corners of the world are all getting together and overcoming language barriers fighting for the same cause, and I would love to be a part of that (if you read this, EPF, I’m available!).
This group will surely celebrate their triumphs tonight, but the celebrations in Jordan have barely begun. As of tomorrow, the 6th of April 2018, the AFC Women’s Asian Cup will kick off and it is the first time in history that an Arab country will stand host. Jordan is the only Arab country that qualified to the competition (as they are the hosts) but their participation speaks volumes and transmits a positive message. Amongst the other participants stand teams like China – with a record breaking eight titles in the competition -, Thailand, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Vietnam. Japan are the current title holders, as they defeated Australia in the 2014 final. That same tournament was also Jordans first, although they ended up losing all of their games in the group stage. But the importance lies not so much on the results on the pitch, as the ones off the pitch.
Even with miles to go, women’s football is making strides in the right direction in the Middle East. It may not yet have the same status as men’s football or as women’s football in other parts of the world, but tournaments like this, and initiatives like Equal Playing Field, can go a long way.
Remember, that there are tickets to the World Cup 2019 in France here for a few teams to grab, and it will be very interesting to see which teams will come to the cup next year. I will leave you with some links on further reading on the upcoming Women’s Asian Cup, that I strongly advice you to read:
-The Philippine Women’s National Team’s #RoadToJordan
-Meet the Matildas, a read up on the Australian WNT
-Short interview with Philippine co-captain Tahnai Annis
-Group previews ahead of the Asian Cup (excellent reading to get your head in the game!)