The first official women’s rugby league match in the Middle East will take place in Jounieh on the fifth of June, when Jounieh RLFC Hummingbirds play AUB Women in an historic match, at the Fouad Chehab Stadium.
Jounieh – coach and driving force behind the women’s project in Lebanon, Ghassan Dandach – said: “I have been working on developing a rugby league women’s division for five years now and the passion and devotion the girls show in such a tough game is truly inspirational.”
Team captain, Nada Muffarij exemplifies the spirit in which the new players have taken to the sport. “I joined a team to try something new,” she said. “A few months later I realized that I’m in a project that’s about more than just sports, and one that’s bigger than anyone person alone; a place where physical and mental strengths are complementary, where teammates work to become a unit that achieves goals inside and outside the field.”
Her AUB counter, Rim Wazni, added: “It’s great to have the chance to be participating in this historic event. We’re looking forward to making the best out of it. Hopefully the game will be a stepping stone for the sport in the country, and the first of many.”
Sol Mokdad, AUB Women’s RL coach, noted: “I am honoured to be part of this showcase event for women’s rugby league in Lebanon and the region. There has been a lot of hard work done on and off the field to bring this to fruition and our ladies should be proud of their achievements.”
The Hummingbirds and AUB have been training since October and the LRLF expects to gain support from NGOs and other civil society organisations to support this important project.
LRLF CEO Remond Safi said: “We are planning to have a women’s championship, initially with a mix of teams from the universities and clubs. We have LAU Women in its formation stages and will take the product to other universities later on.
“We will use this first match to promote the women’s game and eliminate any fears and issues that people may have about women and girls playing a physically demanding sport. We will be also looking at taking the national women’s team on tour later in the year.”
JOUNIEH HUMMINGBIRDS: Tala Flefel, Nada Mufarrij (c), Nadine Kibbi, Gael Abi Akl,Mia Kesserwani, Nayla Saniour, Reem Dahduli,Theres Kayrouz, Elza Maria Gharois, Ornella Nohra, Nour Dennaoui, Karen Roukoz, Lynn Acra,Yasimina Salame, Douha Knio, Camilia Hamze, Josiane Habib.
AUB WOMEN: Carla Badawi, Rania Abdallah, Maya Mourad, Yara Beaini, Alaa Saadeh, Nicole Khauli, Loubna Sasso (vc), Zina Ibrahim, Rim Wazni (c), Justine Abdallah, Nour Shehimi, Maya Jannoun, Aya Afyouni, Nay Achkar, Diletta Monteduro, Nour Samman, Maya Ayache.