In 2017, Equal Playing Field — a grassroots non-profit initiative promoting sports development for girls and women globally — organized a FIFA standard, 11-a-side soccer match on a volcanic ash pit at 5714m high (that’s more than 18,000 feet). After an intense hike, a physical feat worth marveling at on its own, two teams consisting of players from the World Cup, Champions League, Olympic Pros, and more than 10 women’s national teams aged 15-55, played a 90-minute soccer game at altitude. This meant playing with roughly 40 percent thinner oxygen than sea level!
More than just an (awesome, badass) stunt, the trip also included games against local Tanzanian women’s teams and launched football clinics in Tanzania and South Africa.
Now Equal Playing Field are taking their non-profit to the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea — after a tour loaded with camps and clinics across Asia. Along the way, they’re inspiring and empowering the next generation of players, with hopes of sending teams to the AFC Asian Women’s Cup, being held this month in Jordan.
Despite their prestigious accomplishments, EPF’s true goal is to ensure opportunity, equality, and respect for girls and women in sports, as well as life. Through their combination of high-profile challenges and grassroots training and empowerment programs, EPF now represents 29 countries on six continents.
Not only is Equal Playing Field’s goal important, it’s vital for the future of sports and for a new generation of girls… or really, anyone who refuses to be confined by antiquated gender roles.