Mumbai: It was not a bed of roses for Nadia Nighat, the first woman football coach in Jammu and Kashmir to break a stereotypical mindset and prove that a girl can excel in any field.
The 20-year-old from Kashmir’s Srinagar had to face a lot of criticism for choosing an unconventional career.
Speaking to ANI about her journey, Nadia shared, “I was the only girl among some 40-50 boys when I joined a training session at a local college. My family and I faced lots of criticism for playing with boys in a football uniform. Initially, my family was against it but later I got immense support from my father. However, later my whole family understood and supported me.”
An ardent fan of known footballers Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Nadia showed her keen interest in football when she was in school. When she grew up, Nadia went to Amar Singh College Academy to learn the tricks of this game. Subsequently, the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association (JKFA) also helped Nadia pursue her goals.
Talking about the tough situation in Valley, the National-level footballer said, “Whenever there was a curfew in the area, I used to somehow manage my training, I used to play at home. However, it is quite difficult to pursue your dream in such a tense situation but if you have dedication towards something, you can find your path.”
Nadia, who is presently teaching football at a school in Maharashtra’s Thane, also appealed to all parents to allow their daughters to learn and play football.
“I appeal to everyone to follow their dreams and achieve their goals. Do not consider football a man’s game. Parents should allow their children whatever they want to pursue in their career,” she said.