Thursday 16 June 2016, 09:38

Al-Badarneh's journey from footballer to engineer

“I’ve played for years on these pitches and I’m happy today to take part in developing them so that Jordanian football can benefit from them for years to come.” This is how engineer Farah Al-Badarneh, Competition and Venues Director for the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016, describes her participation in the global event.

Al-Badarneh is a former international who used to play for the Jordan national women’s team. She is also the engineer responsible for overseeing the renovation and development of the stadiums where the U-17 Women’s World Cup will take place. She has been there every step of the way on Jordan’s path to hosting the competition, constantly supervising the preparation of the stadiums.

“It’s been a really long journey,” she told “I began by working on the hosting bid and was given the responsibility of preparing technical studies of the stadiums and finding out their requirements. After we won the right to host the World Cup, our next task was to implement the plans. That was really difficult – both renovating the venues and adding new facilities to existing stadiums. So was redeveloping the 17 training pitches – many of them were no longer usable and we had to do a lot of work on them. We needed eight new ones. Today I think we’re nearly ready, we only have the last stage of preparation to go and that will be over in the few coming weeks.”

Al-Badarneh’s football journey goes back many years to when she was at school. “I was really passionate about sports and loved football in particular. None of the other girls were interested so I played with the boys. They were so surprised and shocked when they saw me kick the ball! They didn’t realise girls could also be good at football.

Football has taught me how to turn weaknesses into strengths and how to play as a part of a team and attain your ultimate goal.

After I started playing football in Jordan, I joined the Orthodox Club. After three years I was invited to play for the first ever Jordanian national women’s team. That was a unique experience. I played in lots of matches and championships and it really was a great honour for me. I competed at this level for eight years before an injury forced me to retire. And while that was really painful to accept, I can say that football has taught me how to turn weaknesses into strengths and how to play as a part of a team and attain your ultimate goal,” she added.

As a footballer, Farah achieved a great deal with the national team. Her greatest successes were winning the 2010 Arab Women’s Cup and two editions of the West Asia Football Federation (WAFF) Championship. She also appeared at the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games. “During this time, we were laying the groundwork for the future. We won at West Asian level, and winning the Arab Women’s Cup was something I’ll never forget. We managed to beat Egypt, who are much more experienced than us. Playing against major Asian teams was also really good for us and helped us get to the 2014 Women’s Asian Cup. I wish I could have been there but my injury meant I couldn’t.”

During her time as a footballer, Farah continued her education. She achieved impressive grades at school and decided to study engineering at university. It is a field in which she is now very accomplished. “At school, my love of maths made me stand out. I decided to pursue this by studying engineering and chose to specialize in industrial engineering. Going into this area was a positive challenge. While my mum encouraged me to carry on playing football, my dad was worried that it would delay my studies. But afterwards, he was really proud of me because I managed to do well both at university and in sport.

“Studying engineering helped me find solutions to problems in life and work generally and deal with any situation. I saw this especially when I got the opportunity to work with the Jordanian Football Association. I combined my footballing experience with my engineering knowledge and worked on many projects, so it was easy for me to start work at the U-17 Women’s World Cup Local Organising Committee.”

Farah believes Jordan 2016 is just the beginning. “I think we have achieved and will achieve a lot from this great event," she said. "It’s already helped develop women’s football in Jordan and the rest of the Middle East. Society is now more accepting than any time before of women playing football. Regardless of the final results, I expect more interest from everyone in women’s football, and that means we have to continue working.

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