Meet the Match
An Advocate for Jordanian Athletes
Batoul Arnaout gets stares as she rides her bike through Amman, Jordan. A grown woman on a bicycle continues to raise eyebrows in the Middle East. Batoul challenges the status quo, choosing to embody a sports woman in a culture that still sees sports as a purely male domain.
“For lots of people, they don’t think I’m a normal person,” Batoul says. “I’m 36 years old and I’m always on the streets, running or on my bicycle. But just because I’m doing something that is not accepted by the public, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. I wouldn’t leave sports for anyone.”
Batoul has been relentless in her pursuit of sport. From the age of five, she has participated in a range of athletic activities, including basketball, squash, and taekwondo. To this day, she continues taking part in sport as an avid cyclist and long distance runner. Through these experiences, she has found strength and independence. She knows this would not have been possible without the constant support of her father, who stood by her side even as other voices in her life told her to settle down.
“He raised me to be a strong, confident and independent woman,” Batoul says. “He taught me how to work hard to achieve my dreams and how to never underestimate myself as a woman. I learned from him that dignity and integrity always come first.”
A former public relations regional manager for LG Electronics in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, with an MBA in marketing from the University of Mutah, Batoul has always found a way to incorporate sport into her professional life. After a promising career in management, she founded BOOST – Better Opportunities & Options for Sports Today —in April 2014, with the aim of increasing access to sport for Jordanians and improving the standard of sport across the country.
“I was jogging in the Sport City (Al Hussein Youth City in Amman) and there was so much trash and (people) smoking everywhere,” Batoul says. “So I decided to launch a campaign to clean up the running track and announce it as a non-smoking area so athletes would want to go back.”
After the success of the cleanup campaign, which received support from over 100 volunteers, Batoul officially registered BOOST. She then launched “Help Them Become Champions,” a follow-up project aimed at providing underserved children by encouraging people to donate sports wear and equipment at collection sites in 10 fitness centers.
“Because I am an athlete, I know the situation in Jordan,” Batoul says. “I was lucky because my family was supportive, and they helped me buy my equipment to play, but others aren’t so lucky. The joy I get from helping these kids is priceless. It makes me sleep happy.”
As part of her efforts, Batoul partnered with other local non-profits on her campaigns, (such as Cycling Jordan), and wants to continue engaging community leaders to increase BOOST’s positive impact in the area. She has already received media attention from The Jordan Times and Al-Jazeera, the largest television network in the Arab world. Now, she wants to learn more about strategic partnerships, campaign fundraising, website development, and event management to perpetuate the organization’s growth.
Batoul’s passion for healthy sports environments, coupled with her love of cycling and her background in squash, make Alicia McConnell, Director of Training Sites and Community Partnerships at the USOC a natural match for this mentorship. Based in Colorado Springs, the USOC is surrounded by natural beauty and the residents are committed to clean air and the environment. Just a short drive from USOC headquarters is USA Cycling, a fantastic connection for Batoul given her cycling and fundraising endeavors. Furthermore, Alicia is a top athlete and served as a squash coach before coming to the USOC. Alicia’s passion for community outreach will prove invaluable for Batoul as she engages local Jordanians in community service projects. We look forward to watching this relationship blossom and all of the amazing things they will learn from one another – on bikes, on the court, and in the community.Read the Blog Article