Football, for many women, is life

So, my quiet and unassuming wife was selected to represent Malaysia's women grassroots football. That’s a pretty big deal. The invite came from Equal Playing Field in partnership with FIFA

JASBIR KAUR and other women footballers in France for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup
By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION |

She had just got off from a 15-hour flight but she didn’t look at all haggard from being in an exhaustive flight. In fact, she had an infectious smile. The type of smile that you normally get after experiencing an adventure you won’t forget for a long time.

Through loads of good fortune and perseverance of her own, my better half had embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Out of thousands worldwide, she was selected by a non-profit organization called Equal Playing Field (EPF), that aims to promote grassroots football for girls and women across the world, to participate in events organized by EPF, in partnership with Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Yes, the very same FIFA that organizes the World Cup and the recently concluded Women’s World Cup.

So, my quiet and unassuming wife was selected to represent Malaysia’s women grassroots football. That’s a pretty big deal.

With her flight tickets to Lyon in France sponsored by FIFA, it was a no-brainer for her to participate in all events that they had to offer, particularly playing football with other nationalities together non-stop over five days. And they went on to break world records, by achieving being the largest number of players for one game that spanned days.

My wife is an amateur football player. We normally joke that she’s a rugby player masquerading as a football player when she turns up for a kick-about amongst ourselves. Truthfully, my darling wife has been devoting herself to bringing up our daughters revolving around the ethos that they each can be equal to men, in any venture that they set their minds to. Somewhat naturally and coincidentally, she had morphed into a bona fide soccer mom, and our girls very quickly becoming formidable players within their own right. See here and here.

She can be a tough cookie, my wife. On the football field, and off it as well. Driving the girls around, pushing them to train hard is only a small portion of being a soccer mom in this country. She had taken it upon herself to growing her network – soccer moms, coaches for teams of girls, women who play football passionately. She did this all so that she could provide avenues for her daughters to thrive as competitively as possible. One cold call of such was to an American volunteer in Jordan whom she chanced upon on Social Media. Turns out that this person was the one that got her to Lyon. The rest, as they say, is history.

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In Lyon, she met with so many brave and courageous women who fought for the right to play a sport that they loved but primarily belonged to the men’s territory. Women from developing countries and third world countries who leveraged from being good in the beautiful game to promote themselves as equals to their more dominating counterparts of the opposite sex. Many came from conservative countries who still think women should only be in the kitchen, and nowhere else. The more she met, the more she was inspired by their courage and confidence.

Back home, now validated that football could be the platform for her daughters to carry on learning about being equals with men on neutral grounds, my wife is invigorated. She is more relaxed about what the future holds for her daughters because she knows that they’re learning the right values from football. The girls don’t know it yet but soon they’ll learn of her adventures, of her new friends that she has made, of their trials and tribulations as football players, and our girls will be inspired by their mother. In fact, she has inspired me more than she gives herself credit for.

Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.



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