5 April 2018
Setting a new world record for playing football at the lowest point on earth © Equal Playing Field
Less than 12 months after playing the highest FIFA game in history, a group of female footballers have achieved a second world record-breaking feat - playing football at the lowest point on earth.`
Following a 12-day trek of Jordan, the 40 women, including some current and former internationals, played a 90-minute, 11-a-side match at the hot and humid Dead Sea. At 400m (1,412 ft) below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on dry land.
The organisation behind both record-breaking feats is Equal Playing Field, a grassroots non-profit initiative formed to challenge gender inequality in sport.
"The Jordan challenge started as a bit of a joke when we were climbing Kilimanjaro last year," Maggie Murphy, Equal Playing Field's co-founder explained.
"As we started climbing the mountain, we were building relationships with players from 20 different countries and the two players from Jordan, who had always been strong characters, very engaged right from the start, joked and said, 'we should invite you to Jordan next year and play the lowest altitude match.'
"That was when they said we should be playing at the Dead Sea. It's the lowest point in the world and there are highs and lows in football."
Equal Playing Field's Jordan mission also received a Royal seal of approval, with His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan and the Asia Football Development Project supporting the three-part challenge.
Part One began last year with training camps in Asia, focused on helping prepare teams for the AFC Asian Women's Cup, which is being held in Jordan from 6-13 April.
The second part was the gruelling 12-day 90km (56 mile) trek of Jordan, during which exhibition games and camps were held in Jerash, Wadi Musa, Wadi Rum, Amman and the Dead Sea with the dual purpose of bringing football to communities across the country and promoting the Asian Women's Cup.
On Wednesday 5 April, the eve of the first match of the Asian Women's Cup, the players completed the third and final part of their three-prong challenge in front of HRH Prince Ali, with their successful record-breaking attempt on a pitch built especially for the occasion.
"We want to open doors for them to walk through. We know there are a lot of women and girls in Jordan who haven't even thought of going out and having a kick around," added Maggie.
"We want to help normalise sport for women and girls. We're hoping that by taking the sport to different parts of the country those girls can just have fun and see if they like it and, who knows, maybe they'll go on to be stars of Jordan's national football team."
Things have certainly been different second time around; last year's challenge, when the women scaled Africa's highest mountain with goal posts and nets in tow, also saw them have to raise their own money to fund the record-breaking attempt.
This time, Equal Playing Field has been supported not only by HRH Prince Ali and the Asian Football Development Project, but also the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the German Development Agency and private investment from Jordanian companies.
Instead of playing on a temporary pitch on volcanic ash, they will leave behind a lasting legacy in Jordan.
"Working with Prince Ali, we decided we wanted to build something that would last longer for the community so a pitch has been constructed next to the Dead Sea," added Maggie.
"For Kilimanjaro we had to take everything up and leave no trace behind but, this time, we will be leaving a trace behind, a pitch for the community that, so far, has only been played on by female footballers."
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