I was very delighted when I heard, thanks to Kinzi, about little Jordanian girls making it in the male-dominated sport. Kinzi has been kind enough to share an article she has written about this phenomena. Thanks Kinzi!
Sama, calm and collected, knows it’s her ball. Effortlessly she reaches up, catches it ball and tags the runner before he even gets to first base. The runner on second base knows if she has the ball, it’s not time to steal.
Majd neatly catches the ball, whips off her catcher’s mask and dares the runner on third base to just try and steal home plate. As he retreats, she turns and smiles as she throws the ball back to the pitcher.
Kefah adjusts her baseball cap over her scarf, walks up to the plate and concentrates on the encouragement her coach is sending her way. She hits it! Not too far, but far enough to get to first base.
Wait a minute, did we just read the names Susie, Mary and Kathy? Nope. This isn’t rural America, this is Ghamadan Park in Amman Jordan every Friday in the spring. Nearly 150 kids are playing baseball on fifteen teams, and over half of them are Jordanians.
What makes this Amman Little League season different is the fact that Jordanian girls are playing in the upper leagues. There have always been a few Jordanian girls playing T-Ball and even Coach Pitch, and a few American girls playing in every division. With three 14 year old Urduniyaats playing in the Kid Pitch Division, the term “You throw like a girl” has ceased to be an insult.
Kefah Amireh, an eighth grader at Ittihad, had never played before this year. It was her older sister’s idea, whose boys enjoy playing baseball. Even though quiet and a bit shy, she held her own as she learned. Kefah said she felt very encouraged and supported by her coach, the other players (for the most part, she added) and the fans who cheered her on. She played right field, but likes batting the best, and even got on base a couple times. She plans on playing again next season and wants to tell other girls to join her.
Majd Abdullah had likewise never played before, and heard about the baseball from her cousin. A very athletic young lady, she amazed everyone with the speed with which she picked up the sport, and in her words “it’s easy, the best sport!”. She plays the position of catcher, NOT an easy place for a beginner and did such a great job she almost received a position on the All Star team. Her coach said she has an excellent attitude and always works hard. Majd attends a public school, and has really enjoyed the support of her family who come to watch every week, and the encouragement of the other moms who cheer her on even when she is playing against their sons. She plans to play in the Seniors division next year.
Sama Darwish has been playing baseball since she was six years old, when her mother Rasha was her coach!. With two older brothers playing, she was always around the ball field and enjoyed the help and practice she got when her brothers played with her. Sama describes herself as very competitive and finds baseball the perfect outlet and basketball as well. She attends the Baccalaureate School. She was awarded the distinction of “Best Glove” on her team, meaning she can play all the positions well, and not only did she earn a position on the All Star team, one of the coaches said if there had been an award for Most Valuable Player at the All Star game, Sama would’ve won it today. Her word of advice to other girls “Don’t let anyone treat you different because you are a girl…play well!”.
Rasha Darwish, Sama’s mother, who has been involved in Amman Little League since 1990, thinks baseball is a great sport for girls. “Not only do they learn true teamwork, and how to pull together, but they can also show their individual skills. Girls have a better chance to excel as it is not a contact sport, and they don’t have to be as strong as a boy in the upper divisions. More cheering and talking goes on between team mates, and there is much less fighting than in basketball and football”.
Kefah, Majd, Sama and the younger girls pictured here are in it to have fun, but they are also setting a standard of empowerment for girls in the future. Each one of them mentioned that the other boys on the team (for the most part) treated them as equals and with respect, which shows that attitudes and culture are changing even at that level. It’s a good thing for Jordan, so let’s play ball!