Soleen Al-Zoubi, the Jordan Football Association (JFA) Director of Women’s football, continues to go above-and-beyond her role to improve the women’s professional football league which will propel the sport to new heights in Jordan.
In the latest Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) ‘It’s My Game’ campaign video, very little separates Soleen and her passion for football, which started as early as the age of four. In a family including three brothers, she was the only daughter, and like many children at her age, she also fell in love with the sport by playing street football.
“All my life from my childhood, I remember playing football. I love this game and I wanted to continue to be involved so I started coaching in schools before the Jordan FA gave me a chance to join the Level C coaches course in Sri Lanka.
“After that the AFC gave me the opportunity to participate in more courses, so I continued with the elite programmes and earned my B and A coaching certificates,” said a proud Soleen, who is also a member of the AFC Women’s Football Committee.
Through hard work and determination, she was appointed as the team manager for the Jordan national team when her country was the first from the West Zone to stage the FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup.
Jordan’s brush with history continued when they hosted the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2018, again the first time the country or region had staged Asia’s marquee competition for women.
The fanfare surrounding the AFC Women’s Asian Cup lived up to its billing, but the performance of the Jordan national team, who struggled in the Group Stage without securing a point, was not up to expectations and this prompted the JFA to review the development of women’s football.
“Our results in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup was not what we wanted and after analysing our performance, we found out that it was because we don’t have a strong football league. The league we had only lasted for a month and the players didn’t have contracts.
“The league was too short, and if you weren’t selected for the national team, you did not get enough chances to play football.
“That made us think of restructuring the Women’s League and extending it to five or six months, introduce the concept of professionalism so the players know their rights and duties and the JFA could then select players for the national team based on their performance,” Soleen explained.
While the quality of the league is beginning to show improvements, she admits that there are still many challenges to overcome.
“The presence of women’s football in the Middle East has several challenges as we have to deal with the cultural customs as well as financial constraints. But thanks to the leadership of JFA President, football is now the number one sport for women in Jordan,” said Soleen.
Despite the obstacles, she is still optimistic of changing the face of women’s football in the country – and she hopes that more will join her not only on the pitch – but also off it as well.
“Girls should believe that they can work in any position in football – not only as a player, but also as a referee, a coach, a physiotherapist, a physician or an administrator. I hope that more girls, who started playing on the streets, will rise through the ranks – just like me,” Soleen concluded with a smile.
The AFC’s It’s My Game campaign, which was launched to recognise and encourage more women to join the workforce in football, has been viewed more than 550,000 times and reached over 1.85 million people across the AFC’s digital channels.