16 February 2008

She Plays, We Play

14 February 2010 - Wadi Rum is a beautiful desert about 50 km north of the Red Sea port of Aqaba and a tourist hotspot where visitors can stay in Bedouin tents and venture out into the desert to see Lawrence of Arabia’s cave amidst an incredible landscape of towering rock formations.


It is also the site of the Disi School for Girls, a primary and secondary public school in this impoverished community. They are not refugees but Principal Suhad jumped at the opportunity last year to incorporate Right To Play’s Coach-to-Coach program into her school. As a psychology scholar, she doesn’t hesitate to express the importance of sport for development.

“This program reflects very well on the kids. One girl in particular, Bayan, was very stubborn and did not cooperate well with others. Now she has improved her ability to work in a team environment, but more importantly, she has improved in class as a student.”

We arrive just in time for Ms. Tammam, a 26-year-old English teacher and Right To Play coach, to begin a 45-minute program with a group of sixteen girls ranging in age from 13 to 15. A conservative community, hijabs are expected, while many teachers cover everything but their hands and eyes. Although we are dressed liberally in comparison, there are no judgmental or condescending glares, only warm faces and open hearts. After a warm-up game of tag, Ms. Tammam takes the girls through a series of stretches. We are here on football day, the favorite among both students and staff. The group is taught passing and after a couple of drills, every gathers together in a small circle. Before finishing the session with a big game, teamwork and attitude are discussed interactively.

When the game begins it is obvious that the passion for sport exists here at Disi School. What they lack in technical ability they more than make up for in athleticism, enthusiasm, and competitive spirit. But more evident is their appreciation for the opportunity to compete and be an athlete on a team. While most of the girls play with their brothers at home, this Right To Play program at school is the only other place they can play. After the session ends I ask the girls what they love about this program. While most say they like both the fitness aspect and the feeling of winning, all of the girls want to show that football isn’t only for boys.

Nariman, one of the 14-year-olds, simply says to me, “Football increases our ability to cooperate. I love the spirit of sport…and I also love the enthusiasm we have.” And their smiles all agree…

Before we leave Principal Suhad makes cardamom coffee for all of us and reflects on the session. She brought opportunity to the young girls of Disi School and with a gleam in her eye she says to me in perfect English that now she wants a teacher’s football class.

Return to Right To Play Jordan feature


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