When Sara Abu Sabbah saw her father playing football outside their home when she was a child, she fell in love with the game that would become her life-long passion.
At the age of four, when Abu Sabbah started testing her football skills playing with her father, the charm of the sport delighted her and she started to practise every day.
Her reputation for passion and dedication grew, as she gained recognition locally and internationally, becoming the first female Jordanian to play abroad when she joined the German Bayer Leverkusen’s first team.
She also joined Jordan’s U-17 team, and it was in this team that she would make history, becoming the first female Jordanian to score a goal at a FIFA World Cup.
Abu Sabbah scored against Mexico last Monday in a match at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup at Al Hassan International Stadium in Irbid, 80km north of Amman.
The young player described the goal as a “source of pride” even though Jordan went on to lose the match 1-4.
“My colleagues in the team used to tell me, ‘We hope that you score a goal!’ So everyone wished me good luck to score the first goal and I was happy because my goal made many people happy,” she told The Jordan Times in an interview after a training session.
“Though we lost that match, the goal was something big for me and the team.”
Looking for a goal
The Düsseldorf-born Abu Sabbah said she does not pay attention to her opponents; her main concern is scoring a goal in every match she plays.
“Every match, I concentrate a lot to score a goal. This is the first time we participate in such a tournament so it was a feeling that cannot be described,” she explained.
“It was good for me that I scored a goal in the World Cup because it gives me motivation that if I managed to score a goal in a World Cup then I can score a goal in every competition,” the 17-year-old added.
The goal also made her father Basem very proud.
“Whenever she scores a goal, she stands opposite to the place where I’m sitting in the stadium and gestures to me and I gesture back. She always does that and I never miss a match for my daughter,” he told The Jordan Times.
Basem, who moved to Germany in 1994, said there is no word to describe his feeling when he watches his daughter on the pitch.
Abu Sabbah recounted telling her mother at the age of four that she wanted to play at a football club.
“She went with me and registered me at a boys’ club. At the end of the day, my father asked us, ’What did you today?’, and my mother replied ‘I registered Sara with a boys’ football club’. He was surprised that I would be playing with a boys’ team,” she said with a smile.
Abu Sabbah recalled that her father attended her first match, and that he was very happy to see her score three goals.
“My family members in Jordan are really happy that now I am playing with Leverkusen and with the national team,” she added.
When Abu Sabbah paid a recent visit to Jordan, she received a phone call from the national team, inviting her to join.
“I don’t frequently visit Jordan so the national team helped me learn about Jordan and now I know more about Amman, Zarqa and Irbid. Thanks to my training and my participation with the national team, I’ve had more time to spend with my relatives in Jordan.”
Basem said his message to Jordanian parents is that they should support their daughters if they show an interest in playing football.
“Football is a beautiful game and it is for both boys and girls. My three daughters now play football and this is something I am happy about,” he said.
Despite her successes, Abu Sabbah says more tough work is ahead.
“I still need to learn and practice more and [develop my skills]. My hope is to be a perfect footballer and so far I am not perfect,” she added.
Abu Sabbah said her teammates also show some good skills that might enable them to be professional footballers in the future.
“Every Jordanian footballer has something unique and I am optimistic that they will be successful players if they work hard, and later they can play abroad,” she added.
Abu Sabbah hopes that football is her future, and says she will never stop playing.
“I want to be a famous footballer that everyone knows about in the future... I hope that I can do something positive with Jordan... in the future who knows, maybe I can be a coach.”
By Muath Freij
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