Nadine Schtakleff, Lebanon set to take centre(mid) stage with Equal Playing Field
Nadine joins the Equal Playing Field squad from Lebanon although she lives in the UAE. She started playing football at the age of six before going on to play professionally in Lebanon and captain her country, then later play for the UAE national women’s team. İn 2017 she was selected by Nike Middle East to demonstrate her talent for their new video promoting female athletes in the Arab world. Now, with more than a decade as a professional in two countries where female athletes face particular challenges, she is taking to the field with 29 other female footballers from around the world to add her voice to the challenge for gender equality in sport. Here is why she is fighting for an Equal Playing Field.
If you would like to support Nadine get up Mt Kilimanjaro and inspire a new generation please visit https://www.gofundme.com/daniandnadine
Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates I was football curious from the start. I watched my brother and his friends playing and it didn’t take long for me to bury my Barbie deep in my closet and pick up a football. At the time it was unheard of for a girl to be playing football and there were no girls’ teams. I joined a boys’ team in my school and as I grew older and into high school the word tomboy started to get to me so I stopped playing for a few years.
The moment I let go of the society-inflicted perception that football is only for boys I captained my national team in Lebanon for 4 years, my university team in Lebanon, my 1st division club team in Lebanon and went on to play for a professional women’s team in the UAE for 5 years.
I can’t really answer the question of how football changed my life because I don’t know any part of my life without it.
If I was to choose one thing that I hope the Equal Playing Fields Initiative and climbing Kilimanjaro will change, it would have to be that surprised and impressed tone in a person’s response when I tell them that I play football.
Person: “You play football?? Really? Wooooooooow!”
Me: “Uhhh yes…so?”
Person: “No nothing that’s really cool!”
It’s that feeling when you get highly praised for something you shouldn’t really be getting praised for. It should be normal, just as normal as it is for a boy to be playing football.
Changing mindsets and cultures takes time. I believe climbing this mountain with these women will help change things for the generations to come.
Football is a way of life and I don’t expect everyone to understand it, only support my right to play it. In a place like the Middle East, this is a particularly difficult message to get across. Many girls are allowed to play sports up to a certain age, after which they are expected to stop and “conform” to society and culture. While I fight against these norms every day, I understand that changing mindsets and cultures takes time and that is what I want to help advance with my climb up Kilimanjaro. I want to change things for generations to come.
For me, I cannot remember life without football. I play it because it is what I know, what comes naturally. The most confident I ever feel in on a field. When asked how football changed my life, I can’t really answer that question because I don’t know any part of my life without it. It is where my life began, and I am going to climb this mountain to help other girls and women have that same chance.
Please support Nadine help other girls and women have the same chance: https://www.gofundme.com/daniandnadine