Meet the Match

Badminton Champion Sees Hope through Sports

Dima Alardah was the youngest of five siblings — three sisters and two brothers — all raised under one roof by their mother and father in Amman, Jordan. As the youngest, Dima had big shoes to fill. Her older brothers grew up to become doctors and accountants; and her sisters, lawyers and engineers. Her father, who was also an engineer, made education one of the highest family priorities and it shows in the occupations chosen by his children.

Dima, who was smart and hardworking like her siblings, valued school but unlike her siblings, also took a keen interest in sport. “My family was so surprised that I liked sports. No one in my family plays anything. But me, I play everything! I started out in gymnastics, then basketball, and ultimately found my love with badminton.  Although my family didn’t always understand it, they were enthusiastic and supportive, and they were always proud of me.” As a result, Dima was able to achieve a spot on the national team and later became a professional badminton player.

While achieving her goals on the court, Dima also excelled in the classroom. She passed the university exam that allowed her to pursue an architecture degree program. Although most people consider this program very difficult, Dima found it rather easy. She credits her badminton training for teaching her how to be disciplined and manage her time, which allowed her to stay focused on her academic goals. “I learned a lot by playing badminton. I learned how to have goals and achieve them. I learned that nothing is achieved without hard work. I learned to never give up. You just have to keep going until you reach your goals. Sports taught me that.”

After university, Dima graduated with an architecture degree and worked in the field for two years while continuing to play professional badminton. It became increasingly obvious to Dima that architecture was not her first love; and despite a well-paying job, she left the field to open her own badminton academy. SHUTTLERS is the first badminton academy in the Middle East—owned and operated by Dima—a twenty-seven year old female. The academy was established in February 2012 and now serves more than 300 participants, both males and females.

In addition to her academy, Dima is also now one of the head sports trainers for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The NRC is working in Jordan to aid tens of thousands of refugees that have fled Syria since 2011.  As a sports trainer, Dima works to create unique sports and outreach opportunities for Syrian refugees living in tent camps on the Jordanian border. In addition to teaching sports, Dima also conducts trainings on peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Her ultimate goal in the camps is to use sport to empower girls and women, support them as they overcome obstacles, and teach valuable life lessons like teamwork, cooperation, and respect.

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