On the eve of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, Awista Ayub, author of 'The Kabul Girls Soccer Club', explains how football can "change the world" through the example of Abiha Haider of Islamabad, Pakistan. At 15 she is the youngest member of Pakistan's first women's national team, an impressive feat, but more interesting is her age when she was first selected for the team:
"I was 12 at that time and I was quite young and all of the players and spectators were laughing," Haider said, "but when they saw me play they were like 'no, she has talent.'"
The fact that a 12 year old could have been selected for the national team speaks volumes about where the game stands today in a country only five years into its women's soccer history.
"Right now it's in its initial stages and it's developing day-by-day," Haider said. "We have a lack of resources in Pakistan -- coaches are not that well trained, [and] we don't have women coaches."
Just getting parents to support this new generation of female athletes has also proven difficult.
"Some people are conservative and they don't allow their daughters to go openly and play on the grounds with shorts and shirts," Haider said. "It's very difficult to change the minds of those people and to make them send their daughters to the grounds."
But she is hopeful and sees the sport developing daily with new opportunities. "Soccer gradually changed my life," she said with a smile.
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