A child mimics the actions of their parents and as a child that is what I did to then fall into sports. I found my love for sports when my parents brought me a character football from a toy store at the age of 3. When I was introduced to clubs in school, I instantly chose netball, football and gymnastics. As I grew older so did my bond with football and sports as a whole.
Sports day at school was my version of the Olympic games! I was privileged enough to go to a middle school that was sport orientated, however when exam season approached, I just struggled. I failed all my exams, every single one. Down, frustrated, angered I turned to sports to express my feelings and to get back on track before starting high school. When I started high school I felt as though I belonged as there was an only girls football team, which at the time was gold dust. I joined and we won the triple that year. I also tried to play cricket as that is what South Asian’s are good at, right? Wrong, I was hopeless at the game, but that didn’t stop me from going training every week. The dreaded time approached again this time SAT’s were now replaced with GCSE’s and I knew it would be mentally draining. My teachers helped me balance training for the local lady’s team and the two clubs I was signed up to in school, alongside studying. I passed my GCSE’s and honestly without sports maintaining that balance I wouldn’t have attended university and attained a degree in Sports Business and Coaching.
Through my time from player transitioning into a coaching role was hard, but having that perspective allowed me to value sports. Coaching allowed me to not only value transferable skills, but to value the work put into grassroots sports. As a coach I had more and more children join the club that ‘looked like me’ and I all of a sudden realised something that never crossed my mind before. When I was younger watching sport the lack of people at professional playing, and coaching level that ‘looked like me’ were not present. Instead of looking, I decided to be the role model I wanted to see present as a child. Today I am a Co-founder of the podcast ‘I Think She’s Offside’ talking all things women’s sports, which aims to stay connected to the local community and to give a voice to underrepresented individuals. My love for football is ever growing and led me to coin my catchphrase “I’m going to change the world with a hijab on my head and a ball at my feet.” Which one day I will make a reality.
YST Youth Board Member