Talented Jordanian woman conquers the danish football
Mention the name Stephanie AlNaber and most Jordanians will smile with pride. This 22-year-old super talent is now working as a professional footballer in the prestigious Danish women’s club Fortuna Hjørring, though she has been dribbling with a football since taking her first steps as a child in Amman, Jordan.
Her footballing really began to take off when she was seven years old, when the first Jordanian national women’s team was created. And Stephanie AlNaber has been a fan of the national team ever since. Since debuting in 2004 with the Amman club Shabab Al Ordon (Youth of Jordan), this young woman has continued to make her living from sport.
“I’ve always dreamt of making my living from playing football – not least playing football in Europe. When I got the chance to come to Denmark in August of last year, I left Shabab Al Ordon – coming here has been really fantastic. I’m the first ever female Jordanian football player who has been given the opportunity to play professionally abroad and when I was signed up, it was a big thing for my home country.
I was congratulated by the Jordanian prince Ali bin al Hussein and the Jordanian newspapers were full of information about what I was going to do. Even today, they still write about how I’m doing in Denmark”, tells Stephanie AlNaber, whose mother tongue is Arabic but who also speaks fluent English.
An Arabic woman full of hope
Stephanie explains how unusual it is for a woman in Jordan to make a living from football.“There are only a few of us women doing this, but we are widely supported by most. Many Jordanians follow the national team and I don’t think being a woman in Jordan is really much different from being a woman in Denmark. In both countries, I’m met with respect and friendliness”, continues Stephanie AlNaber, sitting in the Fortuna Hjørring clubhouse.
Her hood is pulled well over her ears as, even though we are indoors, the cold can be seen in her Middle Eastern facial expression. She has cycled from her home to the Fortuna club and the biting Danish winter with its meter-high snowdrifts has left its impression.
The climate and the culture here in Denmark are completely different to what I’m used to, but I’m really happy to be here and it’s good for me to learn about a different culture. I do, of course, miss my family and I’ve had to get used to the fact that the playing ability here in Denmark is much higher. But I’m getting great football experience here – not to mention a great life experience, too”, explains the hopeful Jordanian woman. She comes from a family of incarnate football lovers. Her younger brother Yousef also plays on the national team, as does her younger sister Natasha.
Her father Mazen is an administrator at the Shabab Al Ordon football club, at which Stephanie played until August.
When she left Jordan, Stephanie was in the process of studying Business Administration at university. She has now transferred her studies to Denmark’s Aalborg University. Her academic aspirations go hand-in-hand with training and matches at the Hjørring club and Stephanie plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in the summer – at which point she will have one whole year in Denmark under her belt.
“I don’t know what will happen in the summer, but my goal is to continue making my living from playing football. I love the sport and my dream is to keep playing it here in Europe. I also dream of one day returning to Jordan as a trainer in my former club – or even for the national team”, tells the talented left-wing who is looking forward to an exiting spring football season.
Fortuna Hjørring is Denmark’s largest football club for girls and women and is a leader when it comes to winning in women’s football. The Dana Cup, which is held in Hjørring, is today the third-largest football tournament on the world and the largest in Denmark.In 1994, the first Danish championship came to Hjørring and since then Fortuna Hjørring has never dropped lower than second place in the élite division. To date, the club can boast six championship wins and seven cup titles.
One of the club’s greatest triumphs came in 2003 when it played in the finals of a European Cup tournament – the first and, to date, only Danish club ever to do so. Last year, Fortuna Hjørring brought yet another trophy home – gold in the Danish National league. This was the sixth Danish championship to be won by the club.
Photo: Anneke Lyngholm
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