Meet Haneen Al-Khateeb from Jordan. She’s represented her country at the U17 level at the World Championships and tells us here what it is like to be a young female athlete trying to compete at the highest level and why she is joining the Equal Playing Field squad.

Haneen is kindly being supported by Sportrak but is still looking for additional supporters. Want to help her and her teammates get up Mt Kilimanjaro and inspire the next generation? Visit https://startsomegood.com/equalplayingfield

 All my experiences have taught me that football is not just a game. Football is life, hope, and love.

I grew up in a small town playing football with the neighborhood boys in the streets from the age of 9. I joined a local club and later, was selected for the U-17 national team. In 2010 I played in the world championships in Sri Lanka. I then co-organized the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan and am involved in football clinics for refugees. I believe there will be many more football opportunities in my life and I’m very excited for what will be ahead.

Football hasn’t always been so popular in Jordan. It’s grown a lot though it’s not yet equal to men’s football. Fortunately, Prince Ali has been a huge supporter of gender equality in football, not just in Jordan but all around the world. He was successful in helping to lift FIFA’s ban on the hijab in women’s football and that has been so helpful to me and other hijabi athletes.

I have been told to stop playing in the streets. I have been told to stop playing the game I love. I have been told that football wasn’t for women. I have been told that women are not strong enough to compete. I have been judged by what I wore.

Football was the first opportunity for me to fight for what I wanted and encouraged me to chase my dreams. Football has given me strength, passion and opportunities in life. 

Now I am a 22 year old hijabi woman athlete. I run, I play football, I cycle. I still constantly worry about what people will say or what people will think. I only ask to be respected in whatever sport I decide to take up, regardless of my gender.

My family are my number one supporters. They’ve always known that I was not going to submit to society’s rules if they were unfair. No matter what, I know they’ll always be there to encourage me to follow my dreams and I would not be where I am today without them. 

As a hijabi athlete, I know the obstacles and struggles that women face. As a journalism and media student, I see the power of media and how it can change people’s lives. We need to show the world the abilities and achievements of every successful woman. Thousands of talented and passionate women athletes have many stories to tell and are waiting to tell them.

Climbing this mountain shows I am able - and crazy enough - to go after what I want with passion, determination and love. It means I have accepted the challenge to prove to every single woman that anything is possible regardless of gender or what society says is acceptable. I’m doing it for myself. I’m doing it for my love of the game. I’m doing it for each person who always believed in me.  I’m doing it to inspire and be inspired.

If you would like to support Haneen and her team mates break a world record and inspire a new generation please donate here https://startsomegood.com/equalplayingfield

To find out more about the challenge, please go to www.equalplayingfield.com