KARACHI: The Pakistan women’s team officially retired the number seven jersey on Saturday in memory of deceased striker Shahlyla Baloch in a ceremony at the Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad.
Shahlyla, who passed away in a car accident in October, was the first female player from Pakistan to score a hat-trick in a foreign league as she played for Sun Hotel and Resorts Football Team in 2015.
Shahlyla had also received the FIFA youngest player award as she began playing football at the age of seven and was named the best player of Pakistan thrice in her short career.
Her teammate and Pakistan women’s team captain Hajra Khan organised the ceremony and held an exhibition match against Islamabad XI, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
For Hajra the event was a way of remembering her friend and teammate. “We’ve officially retired the number seven jersey today and we presented it to her family,” Hajra told The Express Tribune.
Goalkeeper Syeda Mahpara Shahid said that it was extremely difficult to play a match without Shahlyla.
“This was the first time we were playing as a team; it wasn’t a complete team mainly because Shahlyla wasn’t there,” said Mahpara. “It was extremely difficult.”