Mais Khoury is determined to lead by example as she attempts to blaze a trail for female coaches in Jordan.
Khoury, who was part of the Jordan squad that made its international debut at the Asia Rugby West Women’s Sevens tournament in Qatar in 2019, had been drawn to coaching since the day she first picked up an oval ball in 2014.
She was given the chance to follow that dream with a local NGO, Aurora, a youth development organisation that aims to empower children through a “holistic sports education programme”.
Khoury has faced challenges while doing what she loves, especially in rural areas where “communities are not used to having women outside their household”.
However, the 30-year-old has not been discouraged by those experiences, and is keen to show young women and girls in Jordan that rugby is a sport for them.
“I would love to see more female players and coaches,” Khoury told World Rugby.
“We have worked so long and hard to grow women's rugby in Jordan and we will not stop here. Great coaches become great leaders and I would love to see every woman as a leader.”
‘My team became my family’
In terms of her wider goals in coaching, Khoury added: “I definitely hope rugby reaches more people inside my country and worldwide.
“I would love to pass on my experience and the values I learned to as many players as I can.”
Khoury first came into contact with rugby six years ago, when Nomads Rugby Club in Amman set up a women’s team.
“I gave the game a try and instantly joined the team,” she said.
“The concept of the game was new to me. I have always been into group sports, however the high demand of physical and mental strength as well as teamwork in rugby is what made me fall in love with rugby.
“On a more personal level, rugby is not only a game. The field became a home and my team became my family.”
Khoury continues to play for both Nomads and Jordan while coaching with Aurora. There are now three female teams in the Middle Eastern country, who play each other twice a year.
Khoury says her work with Aurora has taught her “one of the most valuable lessons in my life”.
“Life is more than our everyday problems,” she explained.
“The children I coached took me back to the simplicity of life. They taught me brotherhood, respect and genuineness.
“Working with the NGO showed me the potential and the willingness to learn that children have. Many are eager to learn and with the right tools you can shape the young not only into good players but successful ones as well.”
Khoury is therefore hopeful that rugby’s popularity in Jordan can continue to grow as more, and younger, women come into contact with the game.
“I look forward to growing women's rugby in Jordan, increasing the number of players and clubs and get recognised worldwide,” she said.
“There is great potential in every female rugby player in Jordan that is waiting to come out.”