Fault! The file name is not specified. Rahman Marathon, in which she participated with great success, and her work around the world to increase girls’ access to sports. Thanks to Dina Rahman.
Dina Rahman’s love of football has taken her from England to Egypt, from Bahrain to Tanzania and beyond. In 2017, she travelled to Kilimanjaro with 32 women from 20 countries – from 15 to 55 years old and with skills ranging from professional to amateur – to climb the mountain and set the Guinness World Record for the highest football match ever played. They collided on a field of volcanic ash at almost 18,760 feet above sea level. In 2018, Prince Ali invited her to Jordan to take part in a football match at the lowest point in the world, the Dead Sea, at 1,412 feet below sea level.
These are two of the five world records she holds. More recently, the record has been set for the highest number of fines accepted in 24 hours in December 2020. His other two records are the biggest five-a-side game with over 800 players in five days, including a seven-hour night game for Rahman’s Legendary Eggs, and the eleven-a-side game with the most played nationalities.
At first sight, Rahman’s life is that of an enthusiastic and successful man. She was one of the first women to be paid as a soccer player in Europe, with Fulham in 2000, and played for two national teams (England and Bahrain). The 37-year-old, who still plays soccer for the national team of Bahrain, now runs her own academy with her husband Paul, after spending part of her career with clubs to develop their academies. When she arrived in Bahrain in 2010, where she still lives, she founded a women’s competition and recruited teams from neighbouring countries. Last year she decided to run an ultramarathon in Brighton.
Few people would expect to hit the ball into the net several times in 24 hours, but Rahman’s motivation to set these records is twofold. On a personal level, she likes to surpass herself. As a confident owner with itchy feet, she is always looking for her next adventure. But maybe your other motivation is even more important. Rahman, together with members of the non-profit organization Equal Playing Field, is dedicated to showing girls and women that there are no challenges they cannot overcome.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Rahman kicked 7,876 penalty kicks during his 24-hour stay. He took a penalty every 60 minutes for 50 minutes, with a short break of 10 minutes. Thanks to Dina Rahman.
We have five world records, but each one is more about the messages we can convey through those records, Rahman told ESPN.
This message depends on the balance of the rules of the game. When the group travelled to Jordan in 2018, they went to refugee camps and organized football lessons for about 300 girls who will never be able to play football, Rahman said.
Some areas are very strict, especially if they are less than 9 or 10 years old. They are at home and don’t do sports, so it was great to see all these girls running around. We played in very isolated places where we only had cones and sand, and it was very touching to see how they enjoyed themselves and did exercises with us and played soccer.
During the 24 hours of her detention, Equal Playing Field broadcast a series of presentations based on their fundamental principles of promoting gender equality, supporting existing organisations that help girls in sports and strengthening the work being done around the world to achieve this goal. This ranges from organising world camps and improving the quality of women’s football to helping local groups such as clubs, academies, charities and NGOs with their own programmes.
Rahman, for his part, had a team of 24 goalkeepers to help him set the record. Among them were players of the Tekkers Academy, which she runs together with her husband, the mothers of her players and teammates of Arab Celtic, her Gaelic soccer team in Bahrain.
Looking back on Rahman’s early days also explains his passion for promoting women’s football. Born in Fulham, England, she started playing when she was seven years old and was originally the only girl in that town. She coached the boys until they made a girls’ team.
I think it helped me develop better, she says about the experience. I had to be hard, I had to be strong. Luckily I did well and I got better.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Rahman, photographed here in the Fulham era, was one of the first women to be paid as a professional during her stay in the London club, which was dissolved in 2006. Mike Egerton/EMPICS via Getty Images
At the age of 15 Rahman went to England for a trial and was selected for the national team under 18, where she played 18 caps and participated in two European championships. She also went on to Fulham and was one of the first women in Europe to be paid to play football when the team became professional in 2000.
The club was great. We trained with the men on range and got all the support we needed, she says.
To be honest, the mistake was that it was too soon. We weren’t in the first division either, and of course money doesn’t just send you to the first division, so we were in the equivalent of the third division. Although it was felt to be a turning point in women’s football, it was also made a bit ridiculous because we were a professional third division team that beat teams 25-0, which of course is not realistic.
Fulham remained professional for three years, but then switched to semi-professional – cash became a problem – before retiring to the amateur and being completely demoted in 2006. While the introduction of professional contracts was exciting for the sport, the transition also gave Rahman a break to think.
I think this is largely due to the fact that I was promoted to the English national team very early on. When Fulham became a professional, it was a huge opportunity and it was brilliant, but we brought in a lot of good, strong and older players, she said. I just had trouble trusting myself…. So when I graduated in sports science, I was able to take an interest in a lot of psychological things.
Rahman’s father eventually brought her back to Egypt, where she played for a year before she tore her cruciate ligament and had to return to England for surgery and rehabilitation. There she started her coaching career at Arsenal when the opportunity arose to move to Bahrain.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Rahman’s record is thin compared to the work she did in the Middle East to improve access to football. One of my greatest passions was to want to change that, and fortunately I did. Thanks to Dina Rahman.
This five-day journey changed the course of Rahman’s life. There she found a job as a trainer and soon moved in with her husband Paul. Immediately undertake the promotion of women’s football in the country.
Clearly there aren’t many girls playing soccer in the Middle East, Rahman said. There was a national team here, but there wasn’t much else going on. So one of my greatest passions was to change that, and fortunately I did.
As a coach at the academy she went from two to over a hundred girls in her first two years. She founded the country’s first women’s competition, which is now run by the Bahraini Football Association, and organised the trips of teams from Saudi Arabia to compete due to the lack of opportunities in her country. Always ready for the next challenge, she and her husband started their own Thackers Academy in 2015. They have ten full-time employees at eight locations and more than 200 girls play alongside their boys’ programme.
We only have girl classes and they are full and fully open. Some of them play in our teams, so they actually play with the guys from our teams, she explained. I couldn’t agree more, because I think it really helps your football. There’s just that element of speed, a little power you can use, and the confidence that you’re good enough to do it.
In addition to coaching these girls throughout her playing career, she feels it is her duty to lead by example and set the world record for most punishments in 24 hours. Initially she wanted to take charge of the admission, which would have required a team, but the regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus made this difficult. Finally, they agreed on sanctions, because a number of people can always be involved, albeit in a safe and responsible manner.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Rahman (left), photographed after the marathon penalty shootout. Thanks to Dina Rahman.
The official record was 1111 and the unofficial record was 2075. Rahman has set himself a target of 100 punishments an hour. She kicked 50 minutes before taking a 10-minute break and then started again at the beginning of the next hour. In fact, she should have received about 2,400 fines, but in four hours she broke the official record. A few more hours and she’s past the unofficial. When she had reached the second goal, her husband Paul politely suggested to stop and go back to bed, but Rahman didn’t want that.
I just felt like I had a responsibility that I didn’t want to stop because I had all these people that I added to my team, she said. Even though it was the middle of the night, I made them commit to go out at 3 a.m. and be a goalkeeper. There was a live feed and everything else. That’s why I didn’t doubt I’d go on.
She eventually scored 7,876 punishments, breaking the record of 6,765 punishments.
I didn’t practice punishment, she said. Some people said you weren’t practicing taking punishments, and that’s what I did: No, it’s okay. They’ll probably loosen up a bit, but I’ll handle it.
I’m tired. My legs got very, very heavy, and they stiffened while walking. My shots got weaker and weaker.
As the new year approached, Rahman was determined that this would not be his last world record. To the playful question whether playing on the moon could be the next step, she paused before laughing widely and answered: Actually, that’s a good idea.