‘She Shoots like a Girl’

In this undated photo, Zara Najjar is seen in a training session while wearing a jersey that reads: ‘She shoots like a Girl.” (Photo: Zara Najjar/JNews)
AMMAN — “You shoot like a girl,” — a common phrase that most have heard while playing sports, as an insult to their skills, technique or abilities.  اضافة اعلان

And while many, whether men or even women, may take offense to such words, to national basketball player, Zara Najjar; the comparison is nothing short of praise.

“It is a privilege to be like a girl, to shoot like a girl, to run like a girl,” the athlete, who also plays for Jordan’s Orthodox club, told Jordan News.

She recalled several games where her team’s performance was described as “masculine” or “manly” as commentators would attempt to compliment their more impressive plays.

 “What’s wrong with saying this performance is feminine? What’s wrong with shooting like a girl?”, the athlete questioned.

To change the narrative about what it means to play sports “like a girl”, Najjar and her long-time friend Ayah Saeed, founded “She Shoots like a Girl,” a movement and brand that in 2020 set out to shift perceptions of such sexist phrases.

The movement spreads its message of empowerment through social media and branded hoodies, and jerseys; calling on women and girls to “take pride” in who they are.

For Najjar, the most rewarding part of the initiative has been receiving messages from mothers of young girls who support the movement and want to wear the jerseys.

“That’s the best part, because that’s the most important thing for me. I want to make sure that young girls do not feel like they are any less of an athlete or less of a player just because they are girls,” the basketballer said.

The “She Shoots like a Girl” Instagram page showcases men and women of all ages donning the movement’s clothing in a stand against the misogynistic undertones of those words, which they hope to reclaim and turn into “a source of confidence, strength, and determination for girls.”

“We need to keep that confidence to keep them in sports,” Najjar highlighted.

But the pro athlete explained that obstacles standing in the way of Jordanian and international female athletes go beyond backhanded compliments.

“There is a massive pay gap between male athletes and female athletes. With male athletes, their sport is treated as a job, as their profession and so they get paid as such,” Najjar said, adding that in comparison, women athletes often have to get second jobs to provide for themselves.

In the same vein, Najjar noted that funding to women’s teams is also an issue.

“We have a lack of funding. You find that men are being sent to camps to train abroad, to (play) in different tournaments, and we just don’t get that opportunity. The Jordanian national team had even stopped (playing) for 10 years, up until 2019,” Najjar recounted.

Yet, Najjar has nothing but admiration for female athletes in Jordan who continue to march forward against all odds.

 “For you to be a female athlete in Jordan means that you are incredibly hard working. It means you are incredibly determined, you have grit that is unfathomable. For you to be a female athlete in Jordan, that means you have to push through every single obstacle that usually tells you to sit down, to not work out, to not be an athlete.”