Deena from Bahrain is ready for another quest

Deena Rahman.jpg

Deena Rahman is the co-founder of Tekkers Academy in Bahrain and an inspirational coach. Deena joined Equal Playing Field for the world record breaking match in Tanzania and is coming to Jordan with the squad.

Deena shared with us how Kilimanjaro impacted her and her aims for the future:

‘Kilimanjaro was such a special and unique event in all of our lives for those that took part, and since returning it has driven the passion I have to promote and improve female football in Bahrain to the next level.

I am proud that I have over 100 females playing at Tekkers Academy and this season our U16 girls won the GCC cup and our ladies team have one several tournaments including the first beach Soccer tournament in Bahrain. The response to the EPF initiative has been really positive and only last week when I was introduced to someone they commented ‘oh you are the one who broke a record on Kilimanjaro’.

I strive to be a role model to any young players and when they see for themselves the positive impact and action being put to work, I can already sense they appreciate the environment they are in with us. I am excited to join the next quest in Jordan and continue our journey to an equal playing field.”

Welcome Deena to the squad for the Jordan Quest 2018. We’re looking forward to seeing her skills in the desert sand…

“My love affair” Lisa Handy, UK – based in UAE, joins the Equal Playing Field squad

Meet Lisa Handy, former winger at Sheffield United, Sheffield Ladies FC and Wednesday Reserves, in the UK. An avid athlete across a range of sports, here Lisa tells us why football features so highly and what climbing Mt Kilimanjaro means to her.

To support Lisa and the other Equal Playing Field players, please visit


I’ve always been passionate about sport. By the age of 15 I was at school doing my GCSEs, dancing in shows across the UK and working three jobs to pay for my lessons and to buy equipment. I began working at a local sports centre as soon as I could and even set up my own basketball and football coaching programmes.  Football still plays a huge role in my life, as a Physical Education teacher, coach, player and avid supporter.


I play football for the love of the game. I play football for the physical, mental and social benefits it provides. I play it to escape and to learn and develop every day. It’s taught me to strive to be more than I ever thought was possible. Football taught me to love and accept everybody and it taught me to believe that anything was possible.


I have a huge and supportive family, although we’re scattered across the UK which is where I grew up, America and the Dominican Republic. But my mother was a single mother with five children so there wasn’t a lot of spare money. I’ve been working since the age of 12 to fund my passion.


I’ve always been aware of gender bias in sport, even though it never bothered me on a personal level. But I think that through my work I have also been able to help to break down barriers and perceptions of women in sport at a local, regional and sometimes even national level.


My proudest moments have not necessarily come through my own or my team achievements.  Instead it’s been in the precious moments I've shared through teaching and coaching; watching a young person develop in confidence through being part of a team, feeling a sense of belonging and mastering a new skill. Coaching coaches in the US and UK to ensure whole communities of footballers and clubs could develop and progress with a better knowledge and understanding of the beautiful game. The last 3 years I have suffered a couple of injuries through football, a broken wrist and a cracked cheekbone, but every time a young person smiles because of a successful challenge, goal scored or skill mastered, I am reminded why my love affair with football still exists.


I’m climbing Kilimanjaro because I believe that sporting prowess is sporting prowess, skill is skill, passion is passion and no matter what gender you are, what country you’re from or which sport you’re involved in, this should not only be recognized but celebrated. I may not see immediate change that will affect me directly in my lifetime. But I – we – will be making a difference for the next generation of women.



To support Lisa and the other Equal Playing Field players, please visit visit

To find out more about the challenge, please go to

“I eat, sleep and breathe refereeing.” Meet Vikki Allan, FIFA Assistant Referee from Scotland, joining Equal Playing Field up Mt Kili!

Youth Ambassador for refereeing in Scotland Vicki Allan took her first exam in response to being told women’ don’t referee. Eight years on, she’s a full FIFA official – and climbing Mt Kilimanjaro to open up more opportunities for women and girls to referee the game they love!


I grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. My mum worked for a football club and my Dad was a football referee. I didn’t really ever play football as I wasn’t very good but when I turned 16 I mentioned to my friend that I was eligible to sit the referee course. Their reply, “but women don’t referee” made me determined to pass the course and prove them wrong! I didn’t ever think I would continue on afterwards, but here we are eight years on!


I sat the referee course in 2009 and have progressed through the leagues now to become a FIFA Assistant. It’s my first year with FIFA so I hope to continue to improve and be the best I can be. It plays a massive role when I’m not in my full time job; I eat, sleep and breathe refereeing. I want to create a better environment for younger referees in the future and to help them grow. This is why I also have the women’s support role in my local association and am the Youth Ambassador for refereeing in Scotland!


When I began refereeing it was still really unusual to have female referees refereeing men’s matches. Every time I showed up to a ground I was stared at, given a broom cupboard to get changed in as there were no female changing rooms and had sexist comments shouted at me. However, after 10-15 minutes on the pitch I was treated just like everyone else and that’s when I realised I need to get myself out there and show people that we can do it too!


People are starting to ‘get used to’ female refs in Scotland, but I wouldn’t say they see us as equals quite yet. One tiny error and immediately you get the “Get back to the kitchen” judgements.


I have quite a small family and do think that they were shocked when I asked to referee. My Dad, as a referee himself was very shocked but he has been really supportive - even if he is my toughest critic!


Equality for me means being offered the same opportunity as men. I don’t want for us to succeed easier because we are women - I want us to earn it just as equally as the men through being offered the same opportunities.


Football has kept me fit and allowed me to make friends all over the world. I’m a stronger and more determined individual as a result of football - and I want others to be able to experience this too. As the Youth Ambassador for refereeing in Scotland one of my main goals over the next two years is to help recruit and retain more female referees. I hope that by taking part in this World Record attempt I can make that happen!


To support the Equal Playing Field players and find out more please visit


“Football - It’s who I am” Maja Åström, Sweden

Meet our Swedish goalkeeper, Maja Åström! She’ll be hoping to keep a clean sheet here and make her daughters proud by climbing Mt Kilimanjaro to add her voice to the call for an equal playing field.

To support the Equal Playing Field players, please visit


I grew up in the northern part of Sweden and was handed a ball to play with before I was even walking. My mum and dad were never very interested in sports but they let me play, day and night, as long as I also managed school. I’ve always had my parents’ support - but they also never pushed me. Putting all my spare time into football was all driven by my inner passion. My younger sister was also in love with the sport and represented Sweden for youth national teams.


I played in the highest league in Sweden from 2000 to 2012 winning the Swedish nationals (2004, 20012) and playing in the finals of the UEFA cup with Djurgården/Älvsjö 2005. My proudest moment in football, now that I look back, is the finals in the Swedish Cup 2004 where I saved a one on one in extra time, securing the win and with that the double (league and cup). I’ve also represented Sweden in a number of games, but I don’t think any of them will be able to compare to the game ahead of us.  


It’s impossible to know what my life would have been like without football. The people, the experience, the challenges; it’s who I am, and not a day goes by without me using what football gave me.

The gender discrimination I faced has never been about whether or not I would be able to play. Sweden is a country where equality between genders is big on the political agenda, but during the time when I was playing, there has always been this debate about women’s football and the comparison to men. From a media point of view, the coverage on women’s football is good, but the angle is always less about sport and more about everything else. When meeting new people, the discussion almost always moved immediately to how the game compares to the men’s. People could never think or discuss or talk or relate to the idea of women playing football in its own right. I’ve witnessed a lot of progress during the years I played, but the field is still not equal.


I think that fighting for equality is a fight that will never be won. Not completely. Sweden is one of the most equal societies in the world, but we still have to fight every day, even if the fights are small.


I now have three daughters, aged 5, 7 and almost 9. I am so happy that we live in a part of the world where them being girls is not an obstacle. They can’t comprehend the fact that there are girls out there in the world that are not allowed to do the things boys their age do. I hope that they one day will understand what this all means and that I will make them proud. Right now they are more focused on the world record – not the cause. I’m proud of doing this, trying to make a change, if not for my own kids, then for someone else’s.


#MyMountain is a great tagline for us.  It works for all the big and small things in our everyday lives that we have to conquer. It also means a challenge but something that is beatable - even if it will take time, strength, stamina, patients and timing. Never impossible, just really tough (and fun)!   

To support the Equal Playing Field players, please visit

Equal Playing Field welcomes Discover Football’s support ahead of World Record attempt

Equal Playing Field and Discover Football share joint mission to promote women’s equality in sport

Equal Playing Field is grateful to receive support from Discover Football ahead of their World Record attempt. Discover Football see football as a way to empower women and promote intercultural understanding. Several of Equal Playing Field’s squad members have played for or participated in Discover Football’s international exchanges, conferences and tournaments where women and girls build skills and share knowledge. Their work aligns with Equal Playing Field’s initiative to promote opportunity, equality and respect for women and girls who seek to play, compete, coach and work in football. Find out more about Discover Football here.

Erin Blankenship of Equal Playing Field said “We are thrilled to have Discover Football as supporting partners and it's an honour to have some of their alumni amongst our team. DF have long been contributing to and leading on the mission to promote equality through football for women and girls from all corners of the world, and we are elated to combine forces and voices to ramp up the volume.”

Dana Rösiger of Discover Football said “We are thrilled to be part of this unique football game on the top of Kilimanjaro and worldwide project. Women’s football is an ongoing battle for equality. Some progress has been made but recent events show there's still a long way to go. I believe that the journey to and the game on the top of this mountain will create bonds and a sense of unity, which will mark another milestone. Not just setting a world record but demonstrating solidarity, and building a collective voice that will help protect the rights of female players worldwide.”

For more information on the Equal Playing Field initiative, please see

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