Dawn interview with Mehwish Khan

By Shazia Hasan [Dawn]

The youngest of 10 children (six girls and four boys), 20-year-old Mehwish Khan is also the younger of the two female football players from Pakistan who attended the FIFA Women Football Coaching Course at Colombo, Sri Lanka, in September. A student of business studies and a sport teacher by profession, she is a former athlete who, besides coaching, also plays for the Diya Women Football Club.

How did you get into football?

I have always been good at sport, especially running. In school I would usually be named the best athlete in the All Karachi inter-school tournaments. Later, in college, I was again named the best athlete in the inter-college athletics championships to be picked for the Railways athletics team. I usually preferred running in the 100 metres and 200 metres sprinting events.

I liked football, too, and started playing around two years back when I appeared for the Diya Women Football Club trials and was selected in their team.

What position do you have in the team?

Striker usually, but I don’t mind the midfielder’s position, either.

So how did you get selected for the FIFA coaching course?

I was spotted by the Pakistan Football Federation [PFF] at the women’s national championship earlier this year. Initially they picked three players, who they thought would make good junior coaches. There was me, Mejzgaan and Hajra. But then Hajra who is only 16-year-old, turned out to be rather young for the course so only two girls—Mejzgaan and myself—were selected.

Tell us more about the course?

Well, as you may be aware, it was a one-week basic coaching course organised by the FIFA in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in September. Two girls each from 12 affiliated countries, namely, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan participated. We had two course instructors—Monika Staab from Germany and Belinda Wilson from Australia. Valery Chukriy from Russia was the course consultant.

We attended theory and practical classes. For theory, we usually attended video analysis sessions, screen presentations, etc.

An example of our practical classes was giving a Sri Lankan girls football team to each country’s coaching pair. Our team reported that we were a confident pair.

So where did the confidence come from?

It’s just something I acquired as a school sport teacher.

And what have you studied yourself?

I am a student of B.Com Part II.

What’s next on your agenda?

I want to form and coach an under-14 girl’s football team. But for that I first need to find a proper, and affordable, football ground where we could meet for practice. Right now the good ones charge around Rs2,500 to 3,000 per hour which is simply out of my reach. But let’s see.

How do your parents feel about your football ambitions?

I come from a Pathan family so initially, when I started playing, they had their reservations. But then they trust me, too, and see me as a positive example for the other girls.

These days we hear about coaches themselves encouraging the players to take various supplements. As a former athlete and a junior football coach what are your views?

Being encouraged to take steroid supplements, etc., by your own coach is a sad reality of our times. But no good coach would do that. Players and athletes should be made to understand that there is no shortcut in life… hard work always pays off.

You study, teach, coach and play. How do you make time to train yourself?

Firstly, I get to run around a lot when refereeing our school matches. I also frequent the Athletics Fitness School at the Hockey Club of Pakistan (HCP). Then we meet up for practice three days a week with the Diya Women Football Club.