Opening up about her experience playing football while wearing a hijab (a headscarf), Pakistan midfielder Amina Hanif said she "likes being different".
Amina — who is currently representing Chesham United — told The Guardian: "I used to think I stand out so badly wearing a hijab, and that lowered my confidence and distracted me from my game."
Initially, it was difficult for her to play with the hijab but things got better with time, she said.
However, she said, that sometime later, things changed.
“After a while, something just clicked and I stopped caring about pretty much everything. It feels really good when nothing affects you,” she said.
Amina, who recently made her debut for Pakistan, wants to be an inspiration for young girls playing football.
“I like being different – the hijab means I stand out on the pitch more. The only challenge I have nowadays is readjusting my headscarf after heading the ball or hiding my pins from the referee before the game. I’ve been offered a Nike hijab, but I’m counting on my own becoming iconic,” she said.
“My goal was always to play at the highest level. However, I had never heard much about the Pakistan women’s team until the opportunity came along. It goes to show you never really know where life will take you.
“The Pakistani community in the United Kingdom is not recognised within a lot of sports. But by being a part of the team I am hoping this will inspire other girls to take up sports and follow their passions in both Pakistan and the UK.”
She also backed the local talent in Pakistan to come good if there was a proper football system in place.
“Pakistan has such a huge population and trust me, there’s talent out there – both boys and girls. It’s just a shame there’s no real setup or scouting in place. I hope by bringing more success with the national team, other girls will feel it’s worth the time and effort to pursue their dreams,” she said.
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