After Playing The Highest-Altitude Soccer Game Ever, This Group Is Setting Its Goals Lower

Equal Playing Field continues to push for equal access for girls in sports.

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So long as women in sports continue to be underrepresented and undervalued, the members of Equal Playing Field are committed to challenging these norms by setting world record-breaking challenges for themselves. 

Last year, the group, comprised of professional female soccer players, coaches, and referees from 24 countries, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and held a full 90-minute match that set the new record for the highest-altitude soccer match in history. This April, Equal Playing Field, and a group of professional Middle Eastern and Asian women soccer players, are headed to the Dead Sea to set the world record for the "lowest" match and help promote women in soccer, and sports in general, in a 12-day tour across Jordan

The group at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in June. Courtesy of Equal Playing Field
The group at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in June. Courtesy of Equal Playing Field

In partnership with His Royal Highness Prince Ali of Jordan, the group will be playing exhibition games and hosting youth soccer camps in four cities across the country with the hope of reaching more than 400 girls. Before meeting in Jordan, through local partners, Equal Playing Field will be hosting soccer camps for girls in Asia, specifically in countries that will be participating in this year's AFC Asian Women's Cup. 

"Giving opportunities like this to girls is so important," Haneen Al-Khateeb, a Jordanian player who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and is helping organize this year's Jordan Quest, told A Plus. "Maybe we're not making them superstars, but at least we're drawing a smile on their faces and putting hope and passion into something that's good for them."

Courtesy of Equal Playing Field
Courtesy of Equal Playing Field

The experience and background of the members of Equal Playing Field are vastly different, but their "family," as Al-Khateeb describes them, are all united around the desire to promote women in sports and gender equality. 

"I hope that I can put an image of a very strong Afghan female out there," player Shabnam Mobarez told A Plus. "Not only for Afghan women but for the rest of the world as well. We might be in war for more than 30 years, but we still have hope and we can still achieve things if the opportunities are there."

Mobarez, who moved to Denmark with her family in 2003 to escape the conflict in her home country, was struck by how female athletes are treated when she returned to Afghanistan in 2014 to work with the Afghan Women's National Team. Mobarez grew up playing soccer in the streets of Denmark. In Afghanistan, she had to be accompanied by her father every time she went to training. 

"I had a normal upgrowing here," she said. "I went to Danish school with Danish friends. It kind of hit me ... To see what it feels like to live in a country where there are so many challenges for you to face every time you wake up as a woman. You see that you aren't equal to men in society, in football, in everything." 

Courtesy of Equal Playing Field
Courtesy of Equal Playing Field

Through the Jordan Quest, the group is hoping to not only prove to others that women can play sports, but help girls prove it to themselves. Every participant in an Equal Playing Field-led camp in Jordan will receive gear, and the field on which the group's soccer match will be held will be donated to the community.

"If you're not satisfied with anything in your life, you have to do something about it," Al-Khateeb said. "Going after what you believe and what you want is a nonstop journey, and we're always thirsty for opportunities to make this world a better place, even through football."

Cover image via Equal Playing Field

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