Hajra Khan breaks world records to highlight inequality in sports in Pakistan [Express Tribune]

Hajra Khan breaks world records to highlight inequality in sports in Pakistan [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel

KARACHI: Pakistan women’s captain Hajra Khan was on a mission at the Equal Playing Field (EPL) initiative in France.

While the EPF Initiative has been to include girls from all over the world to celebrate the sport and giving the opportunity, Hajra’s second time at the Guinness World Record event with them was more about voicing what she had been through as a Pakistani female footballer throughout her career.

Hajra was also featured last year at the Dead Sea for the world record of the highest and lowest altitude matches played.

This time, it was beyond her, and maybe beyond the world record itself, but an achievement she hopes can inspire more girls in the country to pick up football, pick their battles and go for their dreams.

The EPF made the world record for the most players to play in five-a-side match that went on for 69 hours starting from June 28 to July 1, with 807 players participating in it, in the five-a-side match, while the final score between Team Blue and Team Red was 404-369, according to EPF social media update.

For Pakistan, Hajra made her country proud scoring twice, playing for three hours in the field to make sure she is among the women who are motivated and determined to change the world through football.

She participated in the second record attempt to have an 11-a-side match with the most nationalities, there were 54 in Lyon. There too, she scored two more goals.

“It’s not about breaking world records and scoring goals. It’s about why I do it. For Pakistan — for inequality in sport,” the 25-year-old captain told The Express Tribune, who had been seeing discrimination from the Pakistan Football Federation’s administration since 2017, for simply asking for better treatment, equal opportunities for women footballers in the country and for the national team.

Pakistan women’s team last played in 2014 in the South Asian Football Federation Women’s championship in Islamabad, and since then, the PFF never prioritised women’s game, or tried to uplift the already existing structure for women footballers, that is, only having one tournament, a national championship which would last for only a week.

Similarly the women footballers would be paid less than their male counterparts, albeit never getting the same opportunities to play as men.

The women’s football has always been a formality for the PFF.

“[I played] for the $2 we get paid at the national camp, it’s plea for opportunity and respect. It’s about getting more and more girls in Pakistan to play,” said Hajra.

The EPF initiative took place around the same time as the on-going Fifa Women’s World Cup to celebrate the sport and raise the issues that women face.

Published in The Express Tribune, 3 July 2019