Corporate tournaments a stepping stone in women’s football [Express Tribune]

Corporate tournaments a stepping stone in women’s football [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel

KARACHI: “We still don’t understand women’s football in Pakistan,” says Aga Khan Gym coach Sohail Pervaiz after his team, Marta FC, lost the final of the inaugural K-Electric Girls Football League last week.

Pervaiz, who has been associated with football for over 26 years, feels that it took a long time for corporations such as K-Electric to take interest in orchestrating sports tournaments for girls. He insists they are much-needed.

“Women’s football has different dynamics because there are hurdles, cultural ones, and the families need to be on board,” explains Pervaiz in the middle of a coaching session at the Aga Khan ground. “Our team fared well, but the case is that we need bigger tournaments for women to feature them in that light.”

Pervaiz hopes the event is the first of many to come in the years that follow. “I hope this event happens every year, this was the first time KE ventured into women football, but it will be good if they have a women’s departmental team too.”

Despite cultural hindrances, Pervaiz believes tournaments like these help boost interest in Women’s football.

“Parents are concerned about the security of their daughters but tournaments like these can boost women’s football as it is a bigger platform. We do have smaller events, but it is the backing of corporates that can make a difference.”

Though Marta FC lost to Naseem Hameed Academy 3-2 on penalties in the final, founder Rais Khan feels the tournament was a good experience and hopefully signifies a leaning towards women’s football in Karachi.

“There was good competition and we have played well,” said Rais. “Of course there were issues. We felt the refereeing wasn’t at par, but the great thing is that this tournament took place and with time the quality can improve. Women footballers need more opportunities like these.”

In accord with Rais, Pervais also feels large-scale events are more successful in motivating players and providing openings.

The winning team of the tournament took home Rs100,000, runners-up got Rs75,000, and Young Muslim Women FC received Rs50,000 for their third place after defeating Karachi Kickers FC. The best player of the tournament was from Marta FC who was awarded Rs10,000.

KE Deputy Director ESG and Sports Marketing Zehra Mehdi says, “Watching these young female footballers dominate the football pitch was a sight and such leagues would definitely encourage more stars to emerge”.

Published in The Express Tribune, 2 April 2018