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17-year-old Kerala girl’s video goes viral as her football skills stun Indians

17-year-old Kerala girl’s video goes viral as her football skills stun Indians

The Bridge Desk

Published: 21 Jan 2021 7:23 AM GMT

Freestyle football has grown leaps and bounds over the past decade or so. The world knows of Sean Garnier and F2 Freestylers who have taken over the world with their style and innovative football tricks. But how many of us know of India's Hadiya Hakeem who is not just leading the way with her style but is also inspiring generations of women to take up the game of football after her.

Hailing from the town of Mukkam in Kerala, 17-year-old Hadiya comes from a family of football lovers. Her father, Abdul Hakeem is a former football player. She grew up in Qatar and it was her brothers and father who taught her the 'Beautiful Game'. When she lived in Qatar, she accompanied her brothers to the ground. She was a player at her school in Qatar till Class X after which her family moved to Chendamangallur.

After moving back to Kerala, she found it tough to sustain her passion for playing football due to the lack of opportunities for women in Kerala.

Professional forums for women to play and excel in football are hard to come across in India and this is something that Hadiya wishes to alter through her actions.

Hadiya is a Plus II student at Chendamangallur Higher Secondary School near Mukkam. On 7 January 2020, Hadiya displayed her freestyle skills during the annual soccer tournament. She stunned the school authorities as she juggled the ball between her two-foot and in the air without allowing the ball to touch the ground. “I was keen to play football but there’s no opportunity for girls here. There is not even a girl’s football team here. So, I wished to make use of the interval of the tournament and exhibit my skill,” Hadiya told to The News Minute. After a video of her freestyle skills went viral, she is now getting invites from all over her district to perform and inaugurate tournaments.

Whether it be in her school ground or even in a few local tournaments, she has created ripples across the state of Kerala and social media through her skills and view on women’s football. For Hadiya, the change must begin from the grassroots level and she wishes to make the first move in her school itself.

Her aim is to inspire more girls to pick up the sport and ensure there is an adequate focus from authorities and administration to assist with imparting an equal opportunity to play for all.

She may be one amongst the many who idolises Mohammed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo, but her story is nonetheless unique. She has given hope to many women and young girls who might have doubted their ability to play football and sports due to societal stigmas and mindsets. But more importantly she is also the leader of her own movement, one that shall be the first of many.

Also read: Mars Football Foundation is building football culture from grassroots of Telangana

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