ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Karachi grabbed the gold medal beating Quetta and Chitral at a futsal tournament organised by National Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) at the Pakistan Sports Complex on Wednesday.
After days of fog in Islamabad, the sun shone bright setting the stage for the Karachi team to surge ahead in the first two matches beating Chitral with 6-0 and Hazara with 1-0, getting the honours on scoring highest points. In the run for second and third position, the match between Quetta and Chitral was a tie with one goal from each side. In penalty kicks, Quetta edged Chitral 3-2 in an exciting finish.
Both sides made some fine attempts to secure the lead but were thwarted by the rival goalkeepers. Karachi stayed at the superior side all through and sealed the game winning matches from Quetta and Chitral with a splendid win.
The event also featured penalty goal score by Emaan visually impaired girl represented special children at the match Her appearance received tremendous applause from the audiences.
The Futsal tournament was organised by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), with the support of Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, as part of Commission’s unique four-month long initiative “Empower Her,” aimed at promoting girls’ participation in sports.
Teams from Karachi, Quetta and Chitral participated in the final matches, held at the Outdoor Football Ground, Pakistan Sports Complex. The final Futsal tournament were the culmination of “Empower Her,” a campaign supported by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, and included training camps, tournaments, mentoring sessions, panel discussions and a final exhibition match in Islamabad. Bank AL-Habib also joined the campaign by supporting Quetta’s Hazara Women United football team.
‘Empower Her’ campaign was designed to tackle the challenges that hinder girls and women from participating in sports, particularly in football. Despite significant progress in various fields, girls and women in Pakistan still encounter numerous barriers to access and participate in sports. These challenges include limited sports infrastructure, inadequate funding, deeply ingrained societal stereotypes and gender biases, a shortage of training and developmental opportunities, and a dearth of female representation at all levels of the sport.
The campaign aims to redress these disparities by establishing a supportive and inclusive sports ecosystem that empowers women and girls to actively participate, compete, and excel in football. To achieve these goals, the NCHR has collaborated with local implementing partners deeply embedded within the beneficiary communities including Karishma Ali Foundation in Chitral, Hazara United Football Club, Quetta, and Karachi United Foundation, in Karachi.
In her opening remarks, Chairperson NCHR Rabiya Javeri Agha thanked all stakeholders for making this tournament a success. She said that despite the fundamental right to participate in play and recreational activities, only 10% of women in Pakistan engage in sports, and a mere 10 women from our country have ever participated in the Olympic Games. Today, as these courageous young women step onto the field, they have expressed in one word what football means to them – “Peace.” “This encapsulates NCHR’s entry into this project, as we aim to explore the healing power of sports from a human rights perspective,” she said.
Speaking on this occasion, Chief guest Federal Minister for Privatisation, Inter Provincial Coordination and Sports Fawad Hassan Fawad congratulated the Commission and Canada Fund for Local Initiatives for organizing this event. “Their firm commitment to promoting girls’ participation in sports is commendable and is effectively breaking down barriers, transforming the landscape of sports in Pakistan,” he said. He gave example of his daughter who played football at international level and encouraged girls not to get discouraged or stop perusing their dreams only because they are women.
“This initiative aims to change things by making sports, especially football, more open, inclusive and accessible. Empowering women is not just a moral imperative; it is a strategic investment in the betterment of society as a whole. By breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes, we create a future where every girl can dream without limits, participate without constraints, and contribute meaningfully to the success of our nation,” he added.
High Commissioner for Canada Leslie Scanlon appreciated the efforts of NCHR and said that Canada Fund for Local Initiatives joined hand with the Commission in an effort to creating a supportive and inclusive sports ecosystem that empowers women and girls by building their capacities and by providing them the opportunities to exhibit their skills. “We hope to see these young girls succeed and achieve great things in life,” she said.