KARACHI, July 25: FIFA’s German football coach, Monika Staab on Wednesday said money was vital for the promotion of women’s soccer in Pakistan but sincerity and efforts for engaging more girls was the key to success.
“Money is no doubt needed for women’s soccer, but what is more important is that women should be engaged and attracted to the sport. We need sincere efforts and dedication from a coach, be it man or woman, for the promotion of women’s football in Pakistan,” Staab told Dawn.
The German, who has been deputed by the soccer’s Zurich-based international body on a six-week assignment, will train, select and raise Pakistan squad before next month’s national championship in Islamabad.
The 44-year-old said although conservative dress code for women in Pakistan may not be a stumbling block on way to success, followers of the game should be patient to yield positive results. She believed as Pakistan had taken a start from scratch in women’s football, it would take several decades to make an impression in the world.
“What is more important is girls are playing football in Pakistan. And they have a passion for the game. Girls are playing and nobody is asking why they are playing football. I mean…there are no objections on their playing football which is very good sign considering the cultural barriers,” the coach, who represented Queens Park Rangers and Paris Saint-Germain, earlier told the reporters.
Staab, who also played for Southampton, said even in her home country women were not allowed initially to play like men did but things changed later.
“If we take example of Germany from where I came, women’s soccer took 37 years to make an impression and get on to world soccer map. We came such a long way, whereas Pakistan has just started in women’s soccer.
“When women’s soccer started in Germany, there were hardly any journalists covering it. But now they do and care about it. Here I can see dozens of TV channels and reporters now when Pakistan has just started it. All women soccer needs is sincerity, dedication, lots of media attention,” she said between a break in training of a cluster of local girls at the Aga Khan University Hospital football ground.
Although she refrained from commenting on the infrastructure and facilities for women soccer, the coach said extensive activity and competitions were required to give women’s football a boost.
“I have only been to Pakistan football headquarters in Lahore and didn’t see the facilities. So it is difficult to say at this point. But I can vouch for it that FIFA is doing a lot to promote women’s soccer here and has given $25,000 grant. Lots of competitions and matches should be played to popularise the game among young girls. Involvement of private schools in the game can also make a big difference.”
Staab said FIFA development officer Mohsin Gilani requested her to visit Pakistan while she was in Bahrain raising a women’s national squad there.
She will be in Karachi till Sunday before leaving for Quetta and then Islamabad to watch the national competition. The German, however, was apprehensive about the security situation in Pakistan, particularly in Quetta which sees frequent terror acts and sabotage activities.
“I am in touch with the German embassy and just came to know about other sources that Quetta came under rocket attack recently. But till now I have no change in plans and will stay in Pakistan as scheduled,” she said.
Interestingly, while Staab seemed to be at the helm, local in-charge of Pakistan’s women’s soccer, Tariq Lutfi, was seen just watching the drills. His involvement with women’s football in Staab’s presence is strange since he had refused to assist men’s British coach John Layton at one time, saying he didn’t want to play second fiddle under a foreigner.
Tariq took men’s team charge after Layton completed his tenure in 2003, but was later sacked to replace Bahraini coach Salman Ahmed Sharida. The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) accommodated him later as women’s coach.