In yet another proud day for the UAE, female Emirati footballer Areej Al Hammadi made history while continuing to topple gender norms when she broke a Guinness World Record with her impressive footwork last month. The UAE women’s national football team player is now the official titleholder for most “hotstepper” ball control tricks in one minute, a rapid move that requires a fluid motion of alternative-foot ball taps nonstop for 60 seconds. Al Hammadi completed an extraordinary 86 repetitions of the trick on July 10 in Dubai, far surpassing the 56 repetitions previously set in March in the UK.
Taking to Instagram to share the milestone achievement over the weekend, Al Hammadi wrote a short yet fitting lyrical parody of the iconic hip-hop hit Here Comes the Hot Stepper to announce the news and thanked her support system for helping her accomplish this goal. ” Here comes the hotstepper, murderer//I’m a football gangster, murderer,” wrote Al Hammadi. “I’m so happy to say I’m officially a #guinnessworldrecord title holder for most “hotstepper” football tricks in one minute – new record 86! BOOM!”
Growing up in the region, there weren’t many opportunities for Al Hammadi to play football as a kid but that that didn’t stop her from taking matters into her own hands and creating her own teams during her school years. “I kept practicing and training on my own, even though I didn’t have the opportunity when I was young to play for a team or anything like that. I just wanted to be a good football player,” she said in a video shared by the Guinness organization.
After playing the sport for most of her life, Al Hammadi was selected to join the UAE women’s national team and became one of the top footballers in the Arab world. Her motivating force? Passion. “Football is my passion and I can’t point out exactly what got me into the sport but ever since I was a kid, I was hooked…I enjoy learning and I enjoy practicing and improving my skills and technique.”
Channeling that ambitious drive and independent spirit during the recent lockdown period, Al Hammadi took it upon herself to learn a brand-new skill. Although the young Emirati athlete hadn’t even heard of hotstepping until recently, Al Hammadi approached the challenge with a similar can-do attitude and after only three weeks of watching tutorial videos and training, Al Hammadi managed to not only master hot-stepping but also become a world-best on an outdoor pavement in Mirdif.
“Covid-19 curfew had a massive impact on the sports industry, from gym closures to teams stopped from group training, but I wanted to do something special,” explained Al Hammadi in a statement. “I managed to break the record following a week of practice but wanted to raise the bar on this record title to keep it, at least for a while.”
"It's an amazing feeling to break a Guinness World Records title!"
— GuinnessWorldRecords (@GWR) July 29, 2020
With football still being a male-dominated industry, Al Hammadi is no stranger to overcoming expectations and changing perceptions of female athletes in the Middle East. “Courage to pursue your own goals is a key, but with focus and commitment everything is possible if you have the will to do it,” she said. “I aim to contribute to my country’s improvement of women’s representation at all levels of the game by challenging discrimination with hopes for big improvements in the sport industry globally.”
In the clip of her performing the record-breaking feat above, the sun sets over the Burj Khalifa as the whistle blows—marking the end of her world-record attempt and signaling the beginning of another historic moment for trailblazing Arab sportswomen who are forging their own paths to success.
“It’s an amazing feeling to break a Guinness World Records title,” concluded Al Hammadi. “There are a lot of credible titles out there, so for me to be able to say I broke one of them individually is really amazing, especially in football…it’s a proud moment and achievement for me. For my name to be on there, for my country and for women around the world.”