Changing young women’s lives in Pakistan through football

Date: Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Young women and girls from Pakistan’s National Football Team, Rawalpindi’s Young Rising Stars (YRS), and Ambassadors, Diplomats and UN dignitaries participated in the friendly matches. Photo: UN Women/Atif Mansoor Khan
Photo: UN Women/Atif Mansoor Khan

Most Ambassadors and Diplomats had not entered a football pitch in years, and certainly never played football against a national team before. But those who dared to join, got to celebrate the UN International Day of Sports for Development and Peace in a memorable and meaningful way.

On 10 April, UN Women teamed up with Serena Hotels and hosted a match to show how football is a powerful tool for social inclusion, gender equality and youth empowerment. Young women and girls from Pakistan’s National Football Team, Rawalpindi’s Young Rising Stars (YRS), and Ambassadors, Diplomats and UN dignitaries participated in the friendly matches.

The International Day of Sports for Development and Peace was celebrated under the banner of the Serena Hotels Sports Diplomacy Initiative and UN Women’s Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality campaign. The matches were played at Total football facility, the only FIFA certified football pitch in Islamabad.

An exhibition match between the Pakistan National Team and YRS kicked off the event, showcasing the dedication, skills and passion that exist within the women's football community in Pakistan. The match was followed by a six-a-side football tournament with 16 minutes matches between four mixed teams of players from the national team, YRS, Ambassadors, Diplomats and UN dignitaries. Team Planet 50-50 and Team UNiTE put up good competition, while Team HeForShe and Team Sustainable Development Goal 5 qualified for the final. The friendly final tied at 2-2, which led to nail biting excitement as both teams had three penalty kicks each. Team HeForShe scored two goals, and Captain of the National Team Ms. Hajra Khan stopped two penalty kicks from Team SDG5, which led Team HeForShe to victory.

Read the full article on the website for UN Women’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.