- We were so excited to be able to kick the ball once again in international competitions, says Malika-e-Noor.
- I always knew that sooner or later football will be resumed and I had to keep myself prepared, says footballer.
- Pakistan’s performance against India was very much improved, says vice-captain of Pakistan women’s football team.
Karachi: It was just not another game for players of Pakistan women football team when they stepped in for their SAFF Cup match against India on Wednesday in Kathmandu. It was, indeed, a historic moment for them as the match was first international outing for them after a gap of 8 years.
Before Wednesday’s game against India, Pakistan had last played an international game in 2017. Only 7 members of that squad were able to find a place in national team in 2022. Among them, one was Malika-e-Noor.
In an exclusive interview to Geo News from Nepal, Malika said that the feeling of being back on field cannot be describe in words.
“We were eagerly waiting for this moment, we were so excited to be able to kick the ball once again in international competitions, that feeling when we entered the field for our first match cannot be explained in words,” said the 28-year-old footballer who is also the vice-captain of Pakistan women’s football team.
“Things in 2014 started to get on track but suddenly it all was stopped, we all were very hurt due to ban on Pakistan Football and wanted to tell the world thru our performances that it was so unfair to us,” she added.
Malika-e-Noor said that a lot has changed in last eight years, many of her teammates had quit football for other careers and many had moved on with their lives.
“Even my life has changed a lot too, I’ve completed my family, I am now a mother of two but one thing which cannot be taken away from me – was football, it is still there,” she said.
“I always knew that sooner or later football will be resumed and I had to keep myself prepared. I did my training to keep myself fit, I started playing in Futsol so that I do not lose my rhythm, I kept myself involved with sports. Top of all, my family supported me a lot and that’s why I am here, playing for Pakistan,” Malika added.
She admitted that there’s still a lot to be done as far as her rhythm in concerned but aimed to regain her standard quicker.
Malika, mother of a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old, further said that being mother is a challenge but if one can manage to keep the balance then there’s nothing impossible.
She insisted that just like “working mothers” it is important to normalize “Athlete Mothers” in our society.
Replying to a question, the talented footballer said that Pakistan’s performance against India was very much improved from what it used to be in past.
“This is result of just one month’s training. In past India used to beat us by 12 goals, 8 goals but now we were able to restrict them to only three goals, everyone saw that our team has produced better football than past and gave a message that we are not here just to participate, but we are here to make a difference,” she said.
“If we are provided better facilities and football opportunities throughout the year than there’s no reason, why can’t we beat other teams in days to come,” Malika expressed.
For now, Malika is focused on Pakistan’s next match against Bangladesh.
“The way we played against India has given us the confidence and I am very hopeful of a better result in match against Bangladesh. We are ready for our next game,” she concluded.