October’s – ‘The Bravery Issue’ – Download Now

Making history as a Guinness World Record Holder for the most football ‘hotstepping’ in one minute, Emirati footballer Areej Al Hamadi discusses her brave steps towards normalizing women playing football in the region.

What led you to football?

I think sport is a safe place for people to be themselves, dream, and create without judgment. I was shy growing up, and I believe football helped me grow into who I am today, I owe a lot to it. My passion for football grew the more I learned and watched other teams play, in turn, it inspired me to continue pursuing it and to train myself to be the best I can be.

What inspired you to break the world record?

I have always loved the concept of the Guinness World Records. I grew up reading their books and watching records broken on television. The inspiration to try and break a record came during the pandemic, as there was a rise in social media challenges circulating around record-breaking. I also wanted to put UAE women’s football on the map.

What motivates you to keep training?

I think it is essential that you are patient when you’re training towards any goals in life. You don’t grow when things are easy, you grow when you face challenges, and the greater the challenges, the greater the rewards will be when you overcome them. I’ve always reminded myself of that.

This year has been challenging for all. How do you overcome challenges?

 

It emphasized my view on approaching challenges. It helps if you have patience and resilience in times like these. With all sporting events and facilities being closed down for health and safety purposes, you need to create your opportunities and approach to these challenges. Many of us have adapted to working on our fitness at home and improving our skills. Successful and talented Middle Eastern women have been supported in the UAE through various opportunities to develop them and acknowledge their multiple contributions.

What’s next for you?

I will continue to play football and I hope to win some competitions with my national team. I would like to further support women’s participation in sport and educate others on the health and mental benefits of participating in group sports and improving women’s football in the UAE.

This is The Bravery Issue – what is bravery to you?

Bravery is pursuing your dreams and passion. It is the courage to face all the challenges and pushback on your journey to success because success doesn’t come easy, and you will need to be brave to overcome those challenges. Bravery is taking risks and believing in your aspirations regardless of what everyone else says.

What would be the bravest step you took to follow your passion?

When I was growing up, women’s football was unheard of. To even dream of being part of something that didn’t exist at the time and keep pursuing it is brave because it meant taking a risk and some criticism along the way. But I think the bravest step I took was pursuing my dream and playing for the National Team.

Even though it was my dream, it meant I would have to sacrifice a lot of things like my time with friends, family, and other hobbies and aspirations. It meant I had to adjust my lifestyle to fit all the training sessions and commitments I needed to make for the National Team. It also meant that I would be receiving some criticism from people, but when it’s your passion, you make that choice in a heartbeat, and I was lucky to have a supportive and understanding husband to help me achieve my goals.

October’s – ‘The Bravery Issue’ – Download Now

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