Ten girls who are soccer stars in Pakistan toured the Voice of America (VOA) , with one saying the team’s visit to the United States would be an inspiration to others in her native country.
“In Pakistan it is difficult for a girl to play football (soccer), but this visit has given us the opportunity to inspire thousands of Pakistani girls,” said Sana Mehmood, 19. “We hope many will follow us.”
VOA’s Urdu and Pashto services interviewed the girls, who range in age from 12-21 and are from Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
They are members of the “Young Rising Stars Female Football Club,” a group that is part of the State Department’s Youth Enrichment Program (YEP). The club team has played in many tournaments in Pakistan and won the first All-Pakistan Inter-Club Women’s Football Tournament in August 2008.
While in the United States, the team traveled to local high schools, soccer clubs and universities to learn new soccer skills. They also focused on health.
“The fitness and nutrition information we learned is very important,” said player Zara Kyani. “This was all new for us.”
The team also learned about Title IX, the U.S. law that requires equal opportunity for young female athletes.