Football fans watch in awe when Hadiya Hakeem  kicks off her day by practising freestyle football (the art of juggling a football using any parts of the body) at a school ground in Mukkam, Kerala. Recently, a video which shows her playing has gone viral and the girl is now a social media sensation. She is even flooded with invites for inaugurating football tourneys.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hadiya Hakeem, a 17-year-old Kerala schoolgirl displayed her football skills during the annual soccer tournament and stunned the school authorities.
  • Her football video has gone viral and the girl is now a star on social media platforms.
  • “I was keen to play football but there’s no opportunity for girls here,” Hadiya said.

Seventeen-year-old Hadiya is a Plus II student at Chendamangallur Higher Secondary School near Mukkam, Kerala.  On January 7, Hadiya displayed her freestyle skills during the annual soccer tournament. She stunned the school authorities. “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.

“She has given goosebumps to all of us. Hadiya is a big motivation for not only students but also teachers,” said Saleem N K, Hadiya’s teacher implying on the fact that she is an inspiration to other girls.

“Kerala loves football. But if you look around here, there are only men playing the game,” Hadiya told The News Minute. “Local soccer clubs are all men’s clubs. In school, boys take over the field during physical education period, while the girls play badminton or sit idly waiting for the class bell to go off,” she added.

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READ: Women Footballers Don’t Have A Long History In India: Aditi Chauhan

How did Hadiya start out

Hadiya was interested in football since childhood and her brothers helped her out in learning the 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.

In India, Hadiya found fewer opportunities to pursue her sporting dreams. “Our school too does not have a football team for girls. But I never stopped my bonding with the ball as I practised freestyle indoors,” she says.

She is now getting invites from several tournaments in Malabar to inaugurate and display her skills. Her father, Abdul Hakeem is a former football player. “Mohammed Salah and Christiano Ronaldo are my heroes. Team-wise, Brazil and club-wise Real Madrid are my favourites,” she chuckles.

“In our schools, gender divide on the field is evident. My hope is that teachers take the effort to impart grassroots level training for young girls in different sports. It is the school’s responsibility to initiate us into sports, train us, and create a space and opportunity for us. They need to help us, girls, prove that football (and any other sport for that matter) is not the sole fiefdom of boys,” Hadiya says.

Feature Image Credit: The News Minute

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