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You can take Rubi Habash off the court but you can’t stop her from balling
Jordan's Rubi Habash is back training with her basketball team and is thankful for all those times she forced herself to practise at home this past year.
32-year-old Jordanian basketball player Rubi Habash, who plays with club Al-Fuheis, is due to see her league restart in a few weeks and she's also preparing for Asian Cup qualifiers with the Jordan national team.
At the height of lockdown, the club's president sent her and her team-mates a photo of the brand-new parquet floor on their basketball court, all set for their return. He also sent them a photo of a new trophy for an upcoming tournament.
"This kept us motivated," she said. "He was like, 'Look at the court you can play on after the lockdown'. It really made us happy. He also said, 'If you want that trophy then you need to stay active to win it'."
Habash has now had a chance to try out that court and is back training with her Al-Fuheis team-mates, but it wasn’t easy keeping her motivation up over the past year when she couldn't get near the court.
"At the beginning, I missed my team so much and I missed going to the gym," she said. "But I told myself, 'I need to stay focused, because after the lockdown I want to be at a good level. I don't want to start from the beginning – I need to achieve something for when life gets back to normal'."
She trained at home alone and with her husband, the Palestine national team captain Sani Sakakini. She also filmed TikTok videos of basketball drills in her living room, earning herself legions of new fans. This meant that when she could resume training with her team, first in small groups and now in full, it didn't take long to feel like she could pick up from where she left off.
"As a team we go way back, so our bond is really amazing. It was like we never left," she said. "Basketball-wise, it felt like we were missing our touch at first, but we had two or three practices and then we were back on track."
It's still a year however since her last league game.
"To keep competitive, we practise against each other. We really play tough," she said.
Of the women in her team, some work and some study alongside their basketball careers. After the past year, Habash can sympathise with anyone still desperately missing their sport.
"I know how it feels," she said. "When I got up, I would say, 'Right I need to exercise, but I also have chores to do, I need to do the dishes, the laundry'. What people should do is push themselves to stay active and exercise and keep up their fitness and skill level."
Habash also advises keeping in touch on social media and planning a team social event they can all look forward to. For her and her team, a trip to Jordan's Red Sea resort of Aqaba is on the cards – a reward for the months of basketball drills in her living room.