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Football coaching for girls in Kashmir is not just to play football

Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India: Kashmir football club is training girls not only for their future but for their future.

Every day at the field, these girls do warm-ups and learn basic football skills and more complex tricks.

The coach and players alike work hard every day on the football pitch to ensure that dreams to play at the national and an international level translate into reality and girls serve as an inspiration for other women who wish to take up sports as a career.

Besides serving as a place where they can work hard to fulfil their dreams as football players, this academy also serves as a platform for these players to showcase their talent and prove that girls are just as good as boys in sports.

Nadiya, the coach of the academy said that the academy initially provided training to only boys.

“This academy has been around for last 7 years and it started with providing coaching to boys but initially girls could not come. We earned a lot of reputation and won a lot of tournaments. In 2018-19, I started the academy for women but the plans were put on a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now for the last three months, I have been training girls. I have been getting a good response. 28-30 girls are coming and even parents have given a great response. I have an aim to develop the football scene of Kashmir. Girls have a lot of talent but no platform,”.

Players are also extremely happy being a part of the academy and the sport.

“I was fond of playing football. I used to look at the boys playing in the academies and wonder why girls could not play this sport and why there were no girl coaches?. This platform can help us showcase our talents to the world. I want to represent the country at the international level. We are working hard, so is our coach. This academy has given a lot of benefit to the girls,” said a player named Haniya.

Another player Zainab said, “We always wished for a platform to showcase our talents in Football. If boys can play this game, then why cannot we girls? We urge the government to give us a platform so that we can play better. We are giving our best and so is our coach. We hope that all girls get to play and represent India. We have been benefited and learned a lot. We hope that the mindset of people changes too.”

Mafeef, another player talked about the things taught in the academy and said that more academies like this should open in other districts to encourage other women to take up sports.

“I am very happy to play football because it teaches us how important team spirit and unity is. Sports have taught me a lot. We have gained a lot of discipline via sport. Earlier, only boys used to play the sport and society also discriminated against us. But our coach took the initiative to play and train girls, and now we are here,” she said.

Harjap Singh

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