Meet the woman behind a groundbreaking pakistani girls soccer league good sports data recovery vancouver

It’s clear Hussain is fully invested in these young athletes. She yells from the sidelines, encouraging them to play harder and faster. But each order is given with a sense of tenderness. Hussain loves these girls, and it’s quite possible that they wouldn’t even be playing soccer if it weren’t for her.

In 2010, she founded the girls’ soccer league at Karachi United. Unlike many people who go into coaching a sport they grew up playing, Hussain’s first sport was basketball. It wasn’t until college that she began developing a passion for soccer.

“I started playing soccer when I was in Montreal,” she says. “My friend was the captain of the men’s varsity team at McGill University, and at the time I was working as a sports therapist. I was helping him rehabilitate to get back on the pitch.”

She spent the entire summer with him and his family, who were avid soccer fans, and learned the ins-and-outs of the game. When she returned to Karachi to visit her family, her sister had just begun playing on a girls’ soccer team — the only girls’ team in a city of 21 million people.

With the help of two friends, Hussain approached Karachi United, the largest soccer club in Karachi. “When we approached them we said, ‘We want to start a women’s division.’ And they asked us, ‘How is that going to work?’” she said of their initial meeting with the club.

First, they held a summer camp for girls under 10 years of age — the first one ever held in Karachi. According to Hussain, this initiative has proven to be one of their most popular programs, serving as a pipeline for future female players to compete on the KU Women’s Team.

According to Sana Mahmud, a project officer with Right to Play Pakistan, and former captain of the Pakistan Women’s National Soccer Team, parents have fears about allowing their daughters to travel alone because of concerns about potential sexual harassment and violence.

“This means that a parent will have to travel with their daughter to and from practice, which adds cost,” says Mahmud. In fact, the cost of transporting girls to sports programs in Pakistan is about three times the cost of boys, according to Right to Play. This added cost takes into account different factors such as added bus fare or having to miss work to take girls to practice or matches.

There are negative physical connotations for girls playing sports in Pakistan, like getting too muscular. But an even more sensitive issue is the fear of girls getting tan skin from playing outside. Because having fair to light skin is coveted in many parts of Pakistan, if girls get tan parents worry their daughters will be less desirable for marriage.

To help get parental buy-in, Hussain holds parental workshops. The parents are not only invited to see the girls play soccer, but to also play with them. She says that once the parents experience the joys of playing with their daughters, they begin to see the positive impact sports can have in girls’ lives.

“There’s a huge benefit to offer girls the chance to be physical for health reasons,” she says. “But one of the greatest things we’re doing is breaking the stereotype that girls shouldn’t have self-confidence. Soccer can help build that self-confidence on the field, which enables them to go out into the world and break other gender stereotypes that girls in Pakistan face.”

“It’s an assumed thing that girls don’t have a choice [in Pakistan]. She has to get permission to play or to do anything,” she says. “But when they give girls that choice, they, in turn, give girls the ability to be their own person and to have self-agency.”