Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Samar Al-Araj

Sector : Sports, Athletes

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: Palestine
  • Gender: Female
  • Age: 0
  • Curriculum vitae :


Work, creativity and confidence, the one who came up with the idea of establishing the first women’s football team, which was launched with challenge and determination and then was successful, to become the foundation team upon which it was built later. She worked hard, actively and volunteered since 2002 at Bethlehem University, setting a goal in her sporting life that she dedicated to advancement. Women's sports in a country under occupation and to put women's football on the map in a field dominated by male societal dominance in the leadership of sports institutions, difficult social conditions and customs, and a lack of material and moral support.

The founding of the football team was an inspiring story of struggle, hope, persistence, empowerment, and resilience in the face of various forms of difficulties and challenges, which ultimately succeeded.

The “icon” of women’s sports, Dr. Samar Al-Araj. Simplicity, kindness, and morals are her foundation, serious volunteer work is her approach, challenge and persistence are her law, and creativity and success are her title. She is a successful society woman and a veteran athlete who worked for others. She held many positions in many sports institutions, whether local or Arab, and was a role model. She is good at representing her country in any forum she is in. It was necessary to highlight her so that we can all sail with her from her beginning until her arrival as a member of the Executive Office of the Arab Federation for University Sports and head of its Women’s Committee, so this dialogue took place:

·Your story with sports from the beginning until now?

My belief in women’s ability to do anything and my confidence that sports are capable of changing people’s lives were among my most important motivations for joining the University of Jordan to study physical education, even though my high school average qualified me to enroll in the Faculty of Medicine or Engineering at that time. I used to hear a lot of criticism because of my studies in physical education, and “I heard them saying that I was wasting my time and my academic excellence in order to study (jumping, playing, one, two).” Others blamed my father for allowing me to travel to Jordan to study sports, but he did not listen to anyone and was determined to implement my desire, and I tried with all my might. My steadfastness in the face of challenges is to prove that women have qualifications as men or more in any career field they choose, and any dream can be achieved if a person believes in his abilities and does not surrender to obstacles. I graduated first in my class and at the University of Jordan with distinction with a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education in 1984, and at that time we were honored by His Majesty King Hussein in his palace. And I received the special royal emblem, which I still keep until now.

Out of my eagerness to serve my country and my belonging to Palestine, I returned to my country despite the tempting offers for jobs outside the country and received a job as a physical education teacher at Bethlehem University. I realized the importance of physical education in developing students’ health and personal well-being, alleviating psychological pressures resulting from the political situation, and providing leadership skills and team spirit capable of encouraging them to build meaningful and meaningful lives.

I continued my graduate academic studies and opened new doors for me in cooperative education and research projects at the international level. I proved myself as an important authority in the sports field after publishing many studies. In addition, I coordinated several community programs in cooperation with the Sports Department at the University of Cologne-Stadt in Germany. This included various training programs for physical education in schools, for community club coaches, and for physical education supervisors.

·Your beginning with women’s teams, especially in football, and what obstacles did you find and how did you overcome them?

-By nature, I love challenges and working hard to achieve my goals. During my studies in physical education at the university, female students were not allowed to register for the football course, and we had to take the subject of motor rhythm, but I used to practice football sometimes with my colleagues and break the law, including Muhammad Al-Sabah and Ibrahim Al-Atrash, and when I started the field of work at Beit University Lahm and took over the administrative responsibility website. I designed it in 2002 to start with the idea of establishing a football club for female students. Indeed, some of the female students responded to my advertisement, the first of whom were Hani Thaljiya, Shatha Bannoura, Jacqueline Jazrawi, Fidaa Musa, Haya Musa, Ghada Al-Hodli, Dalia Kharoufa, Tala Abu Eid, Heba Saeed, Maha Al-Araj, and Fidaa Fanun. They were trained by the veteran coach who deserves every... Appreciation and respect for Raed Al-Harimi, who continued to volunteer to develop women’s football and help me spread it in other governorates. The first lineup of the 11-player team was as follows: Hani Thaljieh - Nadine and Nevin Kulaib - Sarab Al-Shaer - Jacqueline Jazrawi - Marianne Bendak - Claudie Salama - Natalie Shaheen - Ghadeer Ladaa - Gina Khanouf - Aseel Jabr - Bisan Alyan - Aya Al-Khatib - Hamama Jarban - Noura Abu Shanab - Anwar Hayadari - Amira Al-Hodli - Walaa Hussein - Nadine Odeh. We also added players from Gaza under the supervision of our colleague Hania Al-Bash and Nelly Al-Masry.

I dedicated my life to promoting women’s sports in a country under occupation and to putting women’s football on the map in a field dominated by male societal dominance in the leadership of sports institutions, difficult social and religious conditions, and a lack of material and moral support. Our beginning in establishing women’s football is an inspiring story of struggle, hope, determination, empowerment, and steadfastness in the face of... Different forms of difficulties and challenges. The courage and sacrifices of my students and team players, the support of my husband, Mario Musa, my family, the administration of Bethlehem University, my colleagues in the sports department, and various sectors of society for this team contributed to turning this dream into reality.

The journey of establishing this team was documented in short films, some of which won international awards. It turns out how we had to convince the parents to allow their daughters to participate in the team. The team also suffered from the injustice of the occupation, checkpoints, the isolation wall, and curfews, especially when trying to reach training and matches. As a challenge to all the difficulties, we were able with the team to carry the Palestinian flag and raise it high in 8 Arab and international foreign participations, including a training camp in Germany, with most of them positive results. We demonstrated to the world the ability and perseverance of Palestinian women.


Achievements and Awards

  • Marital status :
  • City :
  • Status :
  • Years in active : From To