by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: “Women football coaches are for the win, it is high time to prioritize women football coaches,” exclaims Diya FC’s former player and now a coach Rukhsar Rashid as Young Rising Star FC’s former player and coach Faiza Mirza shares the sentiment, hoping that even with Covid-19 pandemic, women coaches get the attention.
Both are included among almost 20 participants who started the PFF Women’s Coaching refresher course with PFF Head Coach Tariq Lufti, and the three-day course, is something Rukhsar and Faiza believe will help the women gain the confidence that they may have lost during the lockdown.
“It is dangerous to be out on the field of course,” Faiza told The Express Tribune from Rawalpindi, “but the fact is that we do overlook many details theoretically at times, and I feel that the PFF’s step to hold these courses around this time will help us revisit the knowledge that we may have forgotten and this will be a trip down the memory lane.”
A national rugby player as well, the 31-year-old Faiza believes that the career in women’s football as a coach has been a fight that has not only changed her life but the perceptions too.
In fact it is the women coaches in football that are required all across the country, especially for schools and colleges.
“I have always been into sports, I love being at the field, and when I was starting as a young athlete in school and college I would see other sports, but there was no football, and when I wanted to play football for a club, there were male coaches, and of course girls face the retaliation from the families too. There is always a hesitation, but I made sure that I make a path in this field, and even though we can’t play all our lives, but we can become coaches to stay connected to the games that we love so much. Especially when we have so many young athletes to inspire and to take care of,” explained Faiza who has a master’s degree in physical education too, as she gushes that the refresher course should not only be exciting in terms of theory but also in reflecting on how important a coach’s role can be in an athlete’s life.
“A coach is like a mother, it is not just the game that we need to teach the athletes, but everything else too, from their confidence to their behaviour,” said Faiza, who faced resistance from her father in the beginning, who would tell her that it is insane for girls to make careers in sports, in a country like Pakistan.
Faiza had played as a defender for Young Rising Star FC, and she believes that the opportunity to do License C in 2010 was a game-changer for her, while the PFF never made any efforts to hold License B courses for women.
“There should have been more courses for women, it has been unfortunate, I would want to have a License B too, but we never got the opportunity,” said Faiza.
Meanwhile, in Karachi, Rukhsar is excited that finally the PFF is focusing on women.
“Finally, they are thinking about women coaches, and there is so much potential for women here, it is a great initiative by PFF around this time, we stopped our activities in March and we have been sitting home since, this is a great opportunity to relearn, revisit and update ourselves on the sport.
“I think more instructors should be invited to take the courses too, in Pakistan we need women football coaches, especially for girls, especially for the game to progress and involve more female players,” said Rukhsar, who has been a coach with Diya FC for 10 years now.
“I started by coaching younger girls, U14 and so on, and I can see how a female coach for girls and even for boys can bring comfort and confidence in the players, I feel it is the female coaches that they should invest and focus on for the game to grow.”
Rukhsar has also done her License C coaching course and has also attended futsal coaching course sessions in Milan last year.
On the other hand, the PFF press release clearly states that they are set to hold five online coaching courses within the next 30 days.
So far there is no sign of football activities to return due to progressively increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
“The PFF will launch the Coaching Refresher Course for Women on June 19. The course will end on June 21 and will be followed by the Introductory Coaching Course for Women (June 26-28). For the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) and Pakistan Football Federation League (PFFL) coaches the Refresher Courses will run from July 2-4 and July 9-11 respectively while an Introductory Coaching Course for Men will be held from July 16-18,” says the press release.
Meanwhile head coach Tariq Lutfi said: “The pandemic has badly spread across the world and to ensure social distancing we can’t meet physically and therefore the sport of football is also suffering. Through these coaching courses, we do the best we can in these times to ensure coaches can revise some subjects. And for the coaches who are waiting to start their coaching education, we have planned the introductory courses. I hope the situation improves soon so that in the future we can all meet physically and hold full-fledged coaching education programs.”
Lutfi will be assisted by junior national team head coach Syed Nasir Ismael and Mohsinul Hasnain, whereas Waheed Murad will educate the participants about the laws of the game.