Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jordanian women lead Arab world at Asian Games

Jordan, the first women's football team from the Arabic nations to compete at the Doha Asian Games found competing with powerful teams such as China and Japan a challenge. "You don't know how difficult it is to develop women's soccer in Jordan," said coach Issa Al Turk, as quoted by Xinhua. "I have only two or three minutes to talk to the girls at the halftime break, because they need time to change clothes." Most of the players are around 18 years old -- the youngest one of the squad is Shahnaz Jebreen at 14 -- and some wear Hejabs during the match and have to readjust the Hejabs after heading the ball.

"In Jordan there are only seven clubs with women's soccer team, and the total number of the girls playing soccer in Jordan is between 120-150. To play soccer in Jordan those girls will meet pressure from the family and the tradition. It's not the same as in other countries. After the age of 20 or 22, the girls are likely to get married and then they cannot play soccer. So that's a big problem," said Jordan Olympic Committee media relations officer Farwati Mohammed.

Issa said the girls all come from rich families, and they choose football because they love the sport. "I love football since early age. My father was a football trainer," said Ala Al Qraini, Jordan's defender at the age of 18, whose idols are Fabio Cannavaro and Roberto Carlos. "Certainly we are under some pressure due to the tradition. But nowadays there are more people encouraging us to play soccer. Of course some people object to us, but I think the percentage is not very big."

Issa said the team has an aim of reaching Beijing Olympic Games 2008. They will play a two-leg match with Hong Kong in February 2007.

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