On June 30, 2017, female soccer players from around the world gathered together at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. The 30 players, stemming from over 20 nations, ranged in age from 18 to 66. The females scaled nearly 19,000 ft to the top of the mountain, bringing along goal posts and nets. A 90-minute match ensued under high altitude conditions, leading to several players requiring oxygen. At the end of the game, there was no score. However, this was not the point of the game. The female players united and broke the world record of playing the highest match in history to prove the equality of women. Frustrated with the overall sense of inequality of women in society today, especially in sports, these females decided to make a statement.
On April 6th, 2018, a group of 40 female soccer players from around the globe set another world record. This time, the players held a match at the lowest point on dry land–the Dead Sea. After participating in a 12-day walk in Jordan, the players competed in an 11 v 11 match 1,412 ft below sea level where they officially broke the record for playing a match at the lowest altitude on Earth.
Who Are They?
The organization who put together both pursuits is called Equal Playing Field. It’s a grass-roots non-profit that formed with one goal in mind: to make gender equality in sports a reality. The organization thought of the Kilimanjaro challenge and executed it successfully; however, it was during this challenge that the idea of playing at the Dead Sea arose to fruition. Among the variety of the players who climbed the mountain, two were from Jordan. They joked that in the future, another match should be held but next time, at the lowest place on Earth.
It was supposed to be left as a joke, but upon arriving home, some of the players received a lot of media attention. This then motivated the players along with the organization to set another record. With the growing awareness came growing support. Regarding this most recent challenge, Equal Playing Field was supported by HRH Prince Ali, the Asian Football Development Project, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German Development Agency.
The overall hike was an on-going 56 miles. The players stopped at Jerash, Wadi Musa, Wadi Rum and Amman where they played exhibition games and held camps to bring attention to the Asian Women’s Cup which is taking place in Jordan from April 6-13. There was worry of exhaustion as the females would be playing many games and hiking a significant amount. Humidity and hydration were two other factors to keep in mind. Thankfully though, the temperature was 79°F, which is warm but also bearable.
The match yesterday ended with a score of 4-2, with the real victory being the breaking of another highly impressive record. French, American, Afghanistan and Tunisian players were among the numerous nationalities represented at the match. The females achieved what they set out to do. They brought awareness to women’s soccer and showed the world just how brave, bold, and tenacious women can be.