Connector January 2024

CONNECTOR.AE 54 CONNECTOR.AE 55 Lifestyle Lifestyle Areej, a key player in the UAE women’s national football team, has not only won several accolades, but has also etched her name in the Guinness World Records. Her remarkable achievement involves executing the ‘hotstepper’ ball control tricks, a swift and continuous motion of tapping the ball alternately with each foot for a full minute. Areej Al Hammadi’s dedication and skill set a new standard for excellence as she completed an astounding 86 repetitions of the trick in Dubai, surpassing the previous record of 56 set in the UK. Her story serves as an inspiration, not only for aspiring female footballers but for everyone wanting to achieve their dream. Connector spoke to Areej Al Hammadi, and her journey is an inspiration for all of us. How Did It All Start Having dedicated a significant portion of her life to the sport, Areej has earned a spot on the UAE women’s national team, solidifying her position as one of the premier footballers in the Arab world. However, all this was never easy. Areej Al Hammadi fell in love with football at a young age, dreaming of playing for the national team. She fell in love with football as a young girl watching FIFA World Cup games with her family in 1994 and 1998. In 2015, when the UAE team opened its doors for international competitions, Areej seized the chance. Remarkably, she pursued this dream while already married, with her husband proudly supporting her decision. Subsequently, she participated in the Aphrodite Cup in Cyprus and the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualification in Tajikistan. In 2019, she played in the WAFF Women’s Championship in Bahrain. Adding more to this, Areej said, “I was married by the time I started playing at a more serious level, and my husband was supportive and proud. My parents were supportive as well but it took them a while to understand the level of commitment and time investment that goes into playing football on a semi-pro level.” And while Areej did get the support of her parents, reaching where she is today, did take a lot from her. “It was a challenging period, but reaching where I am today demanded sacrifices. It involved placing football as a priority over other aspects of life, foregoing social events, and facing both physical and mental challenges. Yet, these sacrifices were integral to the journey, shaping me into the player I have become,” adds Areej. Football And Society Today In a traditionally male-dominated field, Areej Al Hammadi sees a shift. She believes that times have evolved, stating, “Women’s football is gaining recognition, popularity, and global support. With increased visibility and investment, positive changes are Breaking Barriers: Areej Al Hammadi’s Journey to Football Stardom and Record-Breaking Feats No matter your gender or background, when you dedicate your heart and soul to a goal, you can achieve it. Trailblazers like Emirati footballer Areej Al Hammadi prove this truth every time.