Lyari's love for football is more than just a game

Girls and women in Lyari and around Pakistan often face barriers to participating in sports

By Mahira Ahmed Miyanji
December 20, 2022
Aspiring female footballers of Lyari - provided by the author

Lyari is a town with a rich and vibrant history that has often been overshadowed by negative stereotypes. Located in the southern part of Karachi, Pakistan, Lyari has a long and exciting history that dates back to the British colonial era. For years, it has been known for gang wars and drug mafia, but in recent times, it has gained recognition for other reasons, like the talent of singers such as Kaifi Khalil and Eva B, and the love for football.

Despite all the attention it has received, Lyari has always been a place full of life, art, sports, and passion. However, due to limited access and the negative reputation it has gained over the years, it has taken a long time for the world to discover the real Lyari. If it weren't for the digital media, it's possible that Lyari would still be known only for its negative reputation. But thanks to the power of the internet, we are finally able to share the true essence of Lyari with the world.

- provided by the author

One thing that has really caught people's attention is Lyari's love for football, especially during the recent FIFA World Cup 2022. It's inspiring to see what can be achieved with the right opportunities and investments, and it's a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. But there's another side to the story of Lyari's love for football that often goes overlooked – the involvement of Lyari's women and girls in sports.

At Women is Nation (WIN), we have seen firsthand the transformative power of sports in empowering girls in Lyari. Through our Lyari Kicks program, we have been using football to teach leadership, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills to over 200 girls in the community. These girls are incredibly talented, and they have a deep love and passion for the game. They have dreams and goals, and they are eager to make a difference in their community.

- provided by the author

But unfortunately, girls and women in Lyari and around Pakistan often face barriers to participating in sports. They may lack access to facilities, equipment, or supportive environments. They may also face social stigma or discrimination that discourages them from participating in sports. These barriers can have a lasting impact on girls' development and opportunities, and they can prevent girls from reaching their full potential.

That's why it's so important to create equal opportunities for girls in sports. When girls are given the chance to participate in sports, they develop confidence, resilience, and leadership skills that can help them succeed in all areas of life. In Lyari, we have seen how sports can help girls break down barriers and overcome challenges, and we believe that this can be replicated in communities all over the world.

If more marginalized communities like Lyari had more opportunities for girls to play and showcase their skills, I have no doubt that they could inspire and represent Pakistan on a global stage. Just last month, I had the amazing opportunity to share the inspiring story of Lyari's girls with the world during the opening week of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. 

- provided by the author

I was able to showcase the power of football in transforming communities, particularly through the eyes of the girls in Lyari, thanks to Generation Amazing – an organization that works to identify best practices in sport for development initiatives and partners with leading football for development organizations. I also emphasized the importance of investing in girls' education and opportunities to learn.

As a society, it's crucial that we create equal opportunities for girls in all aspects of life, including education, employment, and civic engagement. No community can truly thrive if it leaves half of its population behind. I have no doubt that the girls of Lyari have the potential to inspire the world and make a real difference if given the chance to grow and shine. By providing equal opportunities and support, we can help Lyari become an even more progressive and inspiring community.