Amal Ismael: Taekwondo champion and sporting family matriarch

Caption: (Photos: Handouts from Amal Ismael)
Caption: (Photos: Handouts from Amal Ismael)
AMMAN — In the span of a 25-year career, Jordan’s Amal Ismael has managed to become a 6th dan taekwondo black belt, gold medalist, coach and referee; all while raising five children, each with a number of athletic achievements under their belt.  اضافة اعلان

“I was born in Damascus in 1973 to a family of nine. I married coach Jamal Al-Sqour in 1990 who discovered my affinity for Taekwondo. I took my first step in 1996 when I was already a mother of two,” Ismael recalled in an interview with Jordan News.

Two years later, Ismael was a 1st dan black belt and a 2nd dan black belt by the next. “It was then that I realized I had a gift for the sport and gained confidence in my ability to fight in tournaments,” Ismael said.

In 1999, the strongwoman took part in the national team qualifiers and won gold in the (u-59 weight class) then made her way through Poomsae championships that paved a path to a six-year membership in the national poomsae team between 2008 and 2014. In 2011, Ismael competed in the 6th World Taekwondo Championships in Russia.

In addition to being a taekwondo champion and coach, Ismael has held a several administrative positions with the national team and has been refereeing the sport since 2004 — when she earned an international license.

“I have presided over 50 international tournaments, most recently the Men and Women’s Open Championship in Beirut, where I was named ‘best referee’.”

Beyond her own sporting endeavors, Ismael is also raising a family of athletes.

Her eldest daughter, Marah Al-Sqour, an engineer, is a 5th dan taekwondo black belt, having represented the national team for nine years, bagging several medals and ultimately making her way to becoming coach of the Saudi women’s team.

Her son, Adham Al-Sqour is a three-time Arab Gymnastics champion and Asia gymnastics world cup finalist. Ismael’s daughter Sabaa followed in her older brother’s footsteps, taking up gymnastics at an early age, before settling on the U-19 football team and playing professional with Amman F.C. Her 13-year-old son Aser is a 2nd dan taekwondo black belt and on the national youth gymnastics team.

But hailing from a “conservative community,” Ismael’s decision to pursue sports were met with considerable backlash.

“Getting into taekwondo was not easy, especially as a woman and mother. My relatives and people around me could not understand why I was doing something, which they thought should only be done by men,” Ismael began.

“At some point, I had received so much criticism that I started to consider abandoning the sport, but my husband’s endless support and persistence made me take a step back and helped me ignore the pointless critique,” the pro athlete recalled.

To Ismael, motherhood is not a deterrent from a career in sports. She explained that even as a career woman, she can still prioritize her children’s needs whether in school or as athletes.

Read more Sports