Life after basketball for Rubi Habash and Sani Sakakini

Collection of pictures of the couple Rubi Habash and Sani Sakakini on the basketball court and off. (Photos: Handout from Rubi Habash)
AMMAN — When asked about what comes after basketball for Rubi Habash, there is a long pause. "My whole life is basketball," she states.

Habash is the Jordan women's national basketball team captain, a wife, and a mother. Even at a distance from the court, the impact basketball has had on Habash is significant not only to her professional life but to her personal one as well. Habash met her husband Sani Sakakini through basketball. Sakakini, similarly to Habash, is the captain of the men's Palestinian national team. Basketball linked them together, and even though they represent two different countries, basketball continues to create a bond between them. اضافة اعلان

Habash and Sakakini are formidable as a couple. But they are not unfamiliar with people questioning the dynamic because of their shared interests and their unique connection to the game as they represent different teams.

"They think it's something weird, but also something interesting. So, of course, this is something we both appreciate together," says Habash.

"He represents Palestine, and I represent Jordan, but everyone knows that I have Palestinian roots. So when he (Sani) plays for Palestine, I root for Palestine with all of my heart and with everything that I have," expressed Habash in an interview with Jordan News.

However, it is not always this simple. Habash discusses her dilemma when Sakakini plays against Jordan.

"Because both of them are my countries, I love both of them so much. I have my husband on one side, and on the other, I have the Jordanian men's team, who I grew up with. I consider the players my brothers," Habash states as she discusses the curious messages she receives from people wondering who she's rooting for during the games. She reveals that this is one of the challenging aspects of her identity, and it adds to the apprehension.

Despite the challenges, Habash and Sakakini are grateful to the sport they love for bringing them together. "We kept challenging each other and poking fun at each other until we finally played a one-on-one game, and we had chemistry during the game, so that's where our story started," 

Collection of pictures of the couple Rubi Habash and Sani Sakakini on the basketball court and off. (Photos: Handout from Rubi Habash)

Habash says. One game turned into many, and eventually, the on-court chemistry led to them pursuing things off the court.

"Having a partner like this allows for our life to be a lot easier. We understand each other, and we are also able to understand one another and the feelings we go through with the game, with this job," Sakakini stated when discussing life with a spouse that shares the same career. 

The difference in countries doesn't impact their relationship. Both Habash and Sakakini see Jordan and Palestine as one, never letting that detail ever be an issue. "Of course, we've always been raised to believe that we're one people, not two. And it showcased these last couple of months, with everything happening in Palestine, how Jordan stood with the cause, and it proved that we are all one," discusses Habash.

She recites a colloquial saying, "My brother and I will stand against my uncle's son, and my uncle's son and I will stand against the stranger. And this shows how we are one people. We have the same mentalities. So I do look at it from this perspective."

Both captains share their values and outlook on life. However, they say that the most significant responsibility is their positions as role models to younger generations.

Young girls look up to Habash, and parents make that clear through an influx of direct messages on various social media sites explaining how their girls want to be like her and are pursuing the sport because of her. "Lately, I've been learning that it's an even bigger responsibility because I've become a role model to a younger generation," she said. "There are people that look up to me, and so I have to make sure that I always set a good example, so it puts a lot of pressure on me, sometimes it works for me, other times not so much."

Sakakini mirrors her perspective. He realizes the importance of his impact, thus taking it seriously. "When you're a captain, you have an immense amount of responsibility and so much pressure. You have to be a leader, so it affects my life and hers because you have to assume the role of a leader, and you have to be completely on top of everything," he said.

With basketball's impact on Habash and Sakakini, it is hard for the couple to envision a future without the sport.

Habash says that after basketball, both she and Sakakini see themselves opening an academy together, teaching younger generations the game of basketball, sharing the values and lessons, and assisting them in pursuing basketball professionally.

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