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Beyond barriers

Iranian women footballers on the game



Goal Football is a passion for them

They lost the match. But they managed to hog the limelight. With their head gear in place, full-sleeved jerseys and trousers, the Iranian women’s football team stood out. In India this past week for a qualification round clash with the hosts in the AFC Asia Cup 2008, the Iranian players managed to leave an indelible mark.

But for players used to performing before an all-women crowd in their country, was it tough playing before a mixed crowd in India?

Katahyunne Khosrowyar, the 18-year-old midfielder says: “It is quite a normal experience for us. We have earlier performed in front of a mixed audience in Jordan for the West Asian Games.”

When football is a passion, the players vouch even the seemingly cumbersome attire does not come in the way. “When the players are on the field they are working towards a particular goal. It is important to reach the goal and they don’t really care about what they are wearing,” explains Khadijeh.

Khadijeh says women’s football is merely two years old in Iran and they are already making their presence felt in the international scene. If there is a game more popular than football, the players say it is futsal or indoor football, as Khosrowyar explains.

“From the futsal players, the ones who are physically suited for football are selected and brought into the game,” Khadijeh explains the selection process. Be it football or futsal, one realises that passion for the game runs deep. “Even as a six-year-old, I loved football. Seeing my interest in the game, my father told me to pick up a ball and run,” says the U.S.-born Persian French Khosrowyar in her impeccable English.

For the Captain of the team, 26-year-old Masoomen Jahanchi, the journey to football began with futsal. “Even as a youngster I was eager to play,” Masoomen is cryptic.

Fereshteh Karimi, the 18-year-old forward and mid-fielder, looks every bit a football freak with her white band fixed on her forehead. Fereshteh knows only one name when it comes to football heroes, that of Christiano Ronaldo. On her India sojourn, “The people are nice and generous,” she winds up.

P. ANIMA

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