by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: Pakistan’s national women’s team goalkeeper Mahpara Shahid is confident her stint with Dubai club Rossoneri FC will pave way for more opportunities to work with foreign teams.
The 23-year-old, who landed in Pakistan last week to play for her local club WAPDA, believes her time in Dubai taught her a lot, especially as she had to make herself stand out among other foreign players, which, according to her, was her biggest challenge.
Mahpara and defender Zulfia Nazeer signed up with Rossoneri FC — an amateur club in club inspired and even named after Italian giants AC Milan — and featured in the Ex-Pat Football Association League in Dubai.
And Mahpara said that there was a lot of talent on show in the league.
“It was tough because there are a lot of good people playing in these smaller leagues abroad. It was my first experience in such a league and it was a great one,” Mahpara told The Express Tribune.
She further said that it was an eye-opener for her to see the difference between the training of a goalkeeper in this league as compared to back home in Pakistan.
“The training we get in Pakistan is very basic and doesn’t help after a while,” said Mahpara. “But Rossoneri FC had a separate coach for goalkeepers and had these exercises and equipment which we have never seen in Pakistan. In Pakistan there is only one coach who trains goalkeepers during the break, but at Rossoneri FC, they had an entire team dedicated to help improving the goalkeepers’ technique and monitor their skills, speed, endurance and overall progress.”
Mahpara played for the national team at the 2014 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Women’s Championship in Islamabad, which was also the last time the national women’s team featured in an international event.
Back home now, Mahpara feels it is essential that women’s tournaments take place as players are not getting the required training or match-practice to showcase or improve their skills.
“I’m back with WAPDA for a 12-day camp. It has been such a long time since we played a tournament in Pakistan and something must be done about that because a lot of the talent is going to waste,” she lamented.