First-ever Volleyball Academy for Girls Addressing Gender Violence in Pakistan
Establishing the first-ever volleyball academy for girls addressing gender violence takes courage! Our local ambassador Misbah Hina is explicit in her message:
"Believe in yourself and accept that it is not always easy to be a female athlete in our society. People will always try to drag you down. All you have to do is to stand tall and speak up for yourself."
In 2018, Misbah did a project in collaboration with Women Win and Right to Play in Hunza. A beautiful valley with mountaintop views in Pakistan. She will never forget watching all the age groups of girls playing together in unity through sports and the same love for volleyball.
Being able to experience girls breaking the stereotypical barriers, and coming forward to participate in sports with more confidence, made her extremely happy.
A few participants were differently-abled, but their passion and energy were at their peak. They were trying to compete and win the different exercises. Only sport has the power to unite communities, races, and gender.
Misbah her Background
Misbah grew up in a family where sports is considered a secondary option. However, for Misbah, it was something that she always wanted to do. Choosing volleyball was a big challenge because it is not popular in Pakistan.
People do not know about it and players hardly get the chance to play our sport. There was, and still is, no women's national volleyball team. Female sports have always been a big question mark in Pakistan. There is a lack of opportunities, shortage of resources, gender imbalance, discrimination, and female leadership absence.
As Misbah grew up, she realized that there is no single volleyball club or academy for girls in Pakistan where they get professional training.
Back in 2016, she got the opportunity to represent Pakistan in the women's volleyball category in Dubai. That was the time where people who doubted her, realized that yes, she can do it.
Gradually the perception toward female participation in sports is starting to change. People create more awareness and girls playing sports is normalized.
"Let's not wait for any miracle to happen. If opportunity doesn't knock; build a door."
Misbah realized that she should not keep waiting for any miracle to happen and take that first step. She decided to build that door for young girls passionate about sports that want to pursue sports as a career.
The leading purpose of her initiative was to change the perception regarding female sports participation in Pakistan.
First-ever Girls Volleyball Academy in Pakistan
Back in 2016, Misbah initiated the first-ever volleyball academy for girls in Pakistan. It started in the northern areas where they did projects with organizations like the US Embassy and Right to Play. Now they are open in Islamabad and are presenting different sports programs across Pakistan advocating female athletes through sports and promoting volleyball.
The Academy program aims for the physical, moral, linguistic, and professional development of youth in volleyball. Players learn about crucial values of team spirit, sportsmanship, and hard work in the environment of competitive athletics.
They also utilize the athletic environment to teach life lessons applicable on and off the court, including (but not limited to) leadership, teamwork, work ethic, and dealing with adversity.
The Misbah Volleyball Academy Goals:
Coaching programs for girls of remote and neglected regions of Pakistan.
Providing training at the grassroots level to develop talent to represent Pakistan at the national and international levels.
Create leadership in sports.
Gender equality through sports and empowering young girls through sports.
Provide safe spaces for girls in different communities.
Establish sports facilities in multiple regions of Pakistan.
Address Gender-based violence in Pakistan by conducting workshops.
Promote peace through sports
Ensure the active participation of women in healthy and physical activities.
Maximize mental, physical, and emotional development of female athletes in Pakistan.
Using the Power of Volleyball to Unite Gender
When people talk about female sports in Pakistan, it is quite a sensitive topic. Opportunities and attention for female sports in Pakistan are still not enough.
Misbah wants to see more female sports leaders and role models in Pakistan so young girls can take inspiration from them and learn about achieving their dreams.
Making your dreams come true takes determination and hard work. Misbah her journey was a bumpy road with many detours and setbacks. However, with lots of perseverance, she succeeded.
Helping girls take that first step to play volleyball in a country where women do not play was very difficult. Establishing the first-ever volleyball academy for girls in Pakistan and bringing girls in public spaces for a volleyball match was quite an achievement.
Many national universities in Pakistan offer admission to different departments on a sports basis. Young girls from marginalized communities will therefore exploit their new learned skills to secure admissions in top national universities.
The Road Ahead
Misbah explains that they need to create an environment for girls where they can play with confidence. We need to establish a safe space where girls can be more confident in their training.
Along with that, they would like to collect volleyball and training equipment (like volleyballs, nets, knee pads, training cones, agility ladders, etc.) to create equal access to sports for girls.
LKTBF founder Lesley de Jonge helped Misbah with a fundraiser at our online impact platform. His goal was to collect 330 euros to help send extra volleyball equipment to Pakistan. Thanks to all donations, Lesley his fundraiser managed to double the amount to 678 euros. The shipment is still in the process of making sure all equipment arrives safely at the proper location.
Most recently, Misbah achieved a new milestone. The Pakistan Volleyball Federation has constituted the first-ever women development committee for Pakistan volleyball. Misbah is officially assigned member of the committee responsible for organizing national women's events. A huge step forward.
Misbah reacts to her designation with hope: "Be confident, be passionate and work hard to achieve your dreams. Sports have the power to change the world, so let's use it and make the world a safer and better place for our younger (female) generations."
It is essential to create awareness, amplify our stories, and unlock the power of volleyball. Would you like to get involved? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!