KARACHI: Women’s football in Pakistan is on the rise, believes Guljan Bibi from Mirpurkhas.
The 19-year-old midfielder is among the 48 girls attending the Diya Football Club (FC) training camp in Karachi, hoping to learn and improve their skills.
According to Guljan, the camp is an opportunity for her and two other girls from Jamshoro to take up football professionally.
She said there are at least a hundred other athletes dreaming of playing for the national women’s football team in the future.
“People should stop asking if girls in interior Sindh play football,” Guljan told The Express Tribune. “We play football, cricket, hockey and all the sports, but football has been more popular with the women in Mirpurkhas.”
Guljan said she began to take sports seriously just three years ago; before that, she used to play cricket.
“I began with cricket, but then I fell in love with football,” said Guljan. “The primary reason may be the fact that we have more football tournaments in Mirpurkhas as compared to cricket.
“I played for my college and then I joined Al-Noor FC. For now, I just know that I need to learn everything about football. I dream of finding a place for myself in the national squad one day.”
She added that the athletes want to pursue the sport out of passion and not for money. “My parents were reluctant to send me here, but they’ve gradually started to appreciate my passion for football.
“We even watch different matches on the television to learn from international players like [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi, but there’s still a long way to go for me to even start imitating them.”
Meanwhile, Diya FC founder and coach Sadia Sheikh believes that it is necessary to focus on the grass-roots level to find new talent.
She said that so far, players coming from small cities have the passion but they need to learn about strategies and understand the positions in the field.
“We want to focus on the new talent and youth, there is no other way to improve the standard in Pakistan,” said Sadia.
“My aim will be to see the Diya FC girls in the national side, and more importantly go to Mirpurkhas and interior Sindh to find new talent as we need to convince the parents,” said Sadia.
Sadia completed a coaching course in the US last month and said she will be running her club on the Japanese football model, adding that the local clubs need money to operate efficiently.
The camp, which is also featuring girls from different localities including Korangi, Malir, Metroville and Saddar, will conclude in a week’s time.
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