Madiha Naz Jakhro's Al Mehran Club reached the 200-girl mark this year following the December World Cup final
This is a story of a young woman who struck a blow for feminism in Pakistan by starting a girls’ football club, which has grown to over 200 members since the latest FIFA World Cup.
Madiha Naz Jakhro was just 14 years old when she and five girls started playing soccer with other boys on a field in Thatta, Sindh, in 2014.
Five years later the number of girls swelled to 50 with the help of the 2022 tournament hosts, Qatar, who built a boundary wall, changing rooms with security lights for the girls as well providing kits, training cones and balls.
The support came from the tiny Gulf state’s Generation Amazing Foundation, which is using football to impact the lives of a million people around the world as part of the legacy of the tournament.
By 2020 the Al Mehran Club boasted more than 100 girls and reached the 200 mark this year following the December World Cup final which saw Lionel Messi’s Argentina lift the trophy following a pulsating victory over France.
Mahida, now 22, said: “Since the World Cup I’ve got parents coming up to me saying: 'Can you take my daughter for your club?' This is such a great pleasure for me because we are not just playing football we are also discussing women’s rights, domestic violence and things like that.
“This is a really rural area and people think about feminism in a negative way here. But I don’t think feminism is about the way you compete with boys. Feminism gives you the right to do something for your society. So I said: ‘This pitch is not only for boys to play football, football is also for girls. If you have an issue then compete with me and I will give you proof’.”
Mahida said that to begin with, it was difficult to get boys to accept that girls could play football as well.
“It was really hard. People would harass me saying: ‘Why do you start playing football? That is not for girls’. But when I began playing I found a positive change in my behaviour and I became more confident.”
Not discouraged she became a youth ambassador for Generation Amazing in 2014. This followed her participation in a non-governmental organisation called ‘Right to Play’ which fostered girls' involvement in sports in school.
“In this rural area where there is no women’s education, no women’s rights, no support for girls,” said Mahida, who is the daughter of a hotel chef. “I am the first woman from my family and community to be educated in university – and I’m the first women who played football in Thatta.”
Al Mehran is divided into three different age groups, 11-14, 15-18 and 19-25, who all use the pitch in Thatta which they share with boys, scheduling times they can use it.
“Girls play 3-6pm and the boys 6-8pm. We’ve just played in a local tournament. I fought with the organiser to let us play in front of 3,000 boys who were spectators. They were like: ‘Oh my God, girls playing football’ ”.
While Madiha herself benefitted from Generation Amazing coaches being sent from Qatar in 2014 to set everything up she developed her own leadership team in place following their departure in 2019.
“When Generation Amazing left in 2019 I was really worried about what might happen but now I’m training 10 youth leaders in football for development and in different football methodologies. They are working in schools and the wider community, promoting girls’ education and girls’ football.”
At one point there were 50 youth leaders, 12 community head coaches and 4 Generation Amazing ambassadors in collaboration with government schools who were working on football for development projects in different communities.
Madiha’s journey has included travelling to Qatar for Generation Amazing training festivals in 2019 and 2022 as well as seeing the 2019 Club World Cup and the 2022 World Cup when she watched England’s opening match against Iran.
“Generation Amazing gave us the freedom to do something for ourselves and gave us gender equality because I was the first woman representing Pakistan.
“I cried when Generation Amazing left Pakistan but it gave us spirit and now we are the leaders who can follow it. Qatar gave us a chance and we took it."
Pakistani rupee's value remained stable against US dollar, Euro, Pound, Dirham, Riyal and other currencies in the open market.
On Monday, the US dollar was being quoted at 285.15 for buying and 287.95 for selling.
Euro rate stands at 309.9 for buying and 310.5 for selling. British Pound GBP rate stands at 359.4 for buying, and 360.05 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED currently hovers around 77.45 while rate of Saudi Riyal stands at 75.82.
|UK Pound Sterling||GBP||359.4||360.05|
|Hong Kong Dollar||HKD||36.38||36.48|
|New Zealand Dollar||NZD||173.44||175.44|
The gold remained under pressure as the precious metal moved down despite an upward trend in the international market.
On the first day of the week, the price of a single tola of 24-karat gold stands at Rs217,000 and 10 grams of 24k gold costs Rs186,043
A single tola of 22-karat gold costs Rs170,539, while 21 karat rate for each tola is Rs. 192,325 and the price of 18k gold is Rs164,850.
In the global market, gold prices hover at around $2086, gaining $14.44 on Monday.
|Lahore||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Karachi||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Islamabad||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Peshawar||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Quetta||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Sialkot||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Attock||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Gujranwala||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Jehlum||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Multan||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Bahawalpur||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Gujrat||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Nawabshah||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Chakwal||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Hyderabad||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Nowshehra||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Sargodha||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Faisalabad||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|
|Mirpur||PKR 217,000||PKR 2,720|