Pakistani footballer and manager of the Pakistan women’s national football team Raheela Zarmeen has made her country proud yet again by becoming the first South Asian woman to coach a professional men’s football team at the mere age of 24.
Raheela is the daughter of senator Rubina Irfan, former President of the Balochistan women’s football team and the sister of the youngest FIFA player Shahlyla Baloch. Belonging to a family of footballers, Raheela also became the first Pakistani woman to acquire a master’s degree of FIFA. However, Zarmeen had to face various obstacles in order to achieve this goal.
“As a Pakistani from the tribal province of Balochistan, I was bound to face various obstacles. One of the worst hindrances was to have to play football for five years on a hockey field,” stated Zarmeen during an interview.
“My late sister, Shayla Baloch, was declared the youngest player by FIFA. And she was the first Pakistani footballer to do a hat-trick in a foreign league, but neither the provincial nor the federal government honoured her contribution.”
Shayla Baloch was a professional Pakistani footballer who died in a car crash on 12th October 2016. Despite the loss, Zarmeen continued to pursue her dreams.
“Some criticize us because our mom, Senator Rubina Irfan, was the president of the Balochistan women’s football team, and claim that as the reason we came so far and made a name. But they forget that it was our struggle and our passion for football that gave us a name in Pakistan and internationally.”
“What I have attained and struggled for is all because of my parents. Obviously without their support and motivation, I wouldn’t have overcome all the obstacles and stand so firmly. My parents fully supported me and my sisters in choosing football as a career, not merely a hobby.”
After her many laurels and achievements as a vital player and manager of the Pakistani women’s football team, Zarmeen being appointed as the coach of the professional men’s team is yet another cap on the feather.