My name is Sara* and I am 16 years old. It was almost a year and a half ago when I first heard about Skateistan, then after speaking with my parents I decided to join the Skate and Create program.
Before I came to Skateistan, I used to play soccer. In fact, I have been very interested in soccer since I was a child, and I always played with the ball I had. After coming to Skateistan, I realized that there is a girls' soccer team here where all the girls play together. I decided to join so I could play in an official team together with other girls. Playing on a team makes me feel good, and I'm really happy to have the opportunity to practice with other girls now.Before coming to Skateistan, I never thought about having a role model. I've always said to myself that I need to practice enough to become a professional soccer player so that other girls can choose me as their role model. But after coming to Skateistan, I changed my mind about having a role model for myself. Mubaraka is my coach as well as an educator at Skateistan. She motivates me to become a professional soccer player and always encourages me. In my family, I have an older brother who always supports me, he says:
I am really happy that both at home and in the team where I play soccer, there are people who can help and motivate me to achieve my dreams.
One day at the end of one of the competitions held on the occasion of International Women's Day, the coach of one of the teams reads the list of girls who made it to the Balkh Women Soccer Team. Suddenly, I heard my name on the list. Even though I had heard the news with my own ears, it was really hard for me to believe. Another group of girls always made their way to the Balkh Women Soccer Team, but this time I and my other friends were selected. And now we were going to go to Kabul province and participate in the provincial competitions. Although I didn't get the chance to play in all the matches and I was upset about that, I was happy too, because I was one of the girls who was able to have the opportunity to come to Kabul and watch the matches and other training sessions of the soccer girls. And these competitions made me more determined to achieve my dreams and goals.
After a few months of returning from the Kabul tournament, there was a match between the teams in Mazar-e Sharif. The Skateistan team managed to win third place and I won the title of best scorer in the whole competition! The efforts of our team and the hard work that our coach put in for us all made it possible for us to get a good result. It would never have been possible to achieve this success alone, the efforts and motivation that Mubaraka (our coach) gives us make us more successful as a team. I can clearly say that my coach has always motivated me and so have other members of the team.
I wish to become a professional soccer player in the future who can participate in international competitions. And besides, I want to be a doctor so that I can serve my people and my country.
Mubaraka’s side of the story
It was seven years ago when I joined Skateistan as a student. I was in a Skate & Create class led by Zainab, who is now Afghanistan Country Manager. She always encouraged me to skate.
When it comes to getting inspiration, actually it doesn’t matter that someone inspires and motivates you just one specific thing. When someone inspires you it affects all aspects of your life. It was like this for me, when Zainab encouraged me to skate, it completely affected my whole life. I didn’t have a professional coach when I started to play soccer, I always watched videos and then tried to work on it practically. But I always remembered Zainab’s words that if you want to be a successful person, you should be patient, motivated and diligent in all the situations that you are in. It’s the only way that can help you.
When Sara joined the soccer team, it didn't look like she was really interested in playing soccer. Or maybe she was waiting for someone to come over and inspire her. But after a few weeks I saw that she plays very powerfully. So I decided to try to speak with her and encourage her, just like Zainab encouraged me.
As a coach, I think it’s really important to work with students mentally first. Then you can move on to their physical ability in the sport. Before and after each session I always talk to students about the things that can be inspiring and motivating to them. And it was the same for Sara.
I gave her a chance to play in a soccer game, and it was the start. Since she joined, we always get new starters to play in a game straight away. Because we want them all to see the game and know how they play a part.
Sara’s an inspirational player - she has a different power and motivation from other girls. It was her motivation and the way she plays soccer that meant she was selected from a big group of girls to participate in the provincial soccer game.
Skateistan is aiming to raise $75,000 by the end of July so that we can provide more spaces where girls like Sara are supported, encouraged and celebrated. Donate today to show girls that they can be whatever they dream of being. It's Her Turn.
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*Sara's name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan's Child Protection Policy.