“Have been criticized many times but that never stopped me from playing. I respect everyone’s way of thinking and I think they have the right to say anything they want to.” – Shahlyla Baloch
Times of Youth: For those who don’t know about you, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Shahlyla Baloch: My name is Shahlyla Baloch. I’m from Balochistan, Pakistan. I play for Balochistan United WF which is the current champion women football team of Pakistan. I started playing football when I was 7 years old and I received the FIFA’s youngest players award at the age of 7. I have been awarded as the best player of Pakistan thrice i.e. 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Times of Youth: Women in your country are mostly kitchen- and home-bound. What made you take up football as a profession instead?
Shahlyla Baloch: The concept of women being in the kitchen is a bit to old. The image of women in Pakistan is totally different now, they are deriving education and developing in every sector of life.
Times of Youth: Did you face any obstacles in your journey to becoming a professional footballer? If yes, what were they?
Shahlyla Baloch: I had, I am and I think I will be facing a lot of obstacles, but my aim is very articulate and I’m focused about what I have to do and how I am going to cross all barriers.
Times of Youth: Which player has been your inspiration all along?
Shahlyla Baloch: Maradona and Messi.
Times of Youth: In the International female football circuit, is there any specific female footballer you like and why?
Shahlyla Baloch: Abby Wemback, because she’s a scorer and the way she scores goals with headers and everything is just amazing!
Times of Youth: What makes you motivated every morning to train so hard?
Shahlyla Baloch: Every day I wake up and commit myself to become a better player because football is something I love and I want to be best at it.
- You’re addicted to: Football and makeup
- The fragrance you wear often: Chanel
- Favorite dressing style: Shorts and shirt.
Times of Youth: Defence or Attack? What’s your inherent style and why?
Shahlyla Baloch: Attack, because I love scoring goals!
Times of Youth: Since your mother is already in the Federation and your sister in the manager of the team, has it affected your game at all? Was it good or bad? And why?
Shahlyla Baloch: No, that has nothing to do with my game. When I’m on the field nothing else matters to me except performing good and winning!
Times of Youth: You recently joined the Sun Club in the Maldives where you received professional training. Tell us more about it.
Shahlyla Baloch: I was offered to play with the Sun team for a league. It’s a great experience. I will be here for a month, we will have 6 matches in total. Let’s hope for the best!
Times of Youth: Did you ever expect, when you started out at first, that you’d get this far?
Shahlyla Baloch: I always wanted to play for the national team of Pakistan and I must say I’m very lucky that I’ve been a part of it since the team came into existence. I always dreamed to play for an international club and I would like to say that dreams do come true!
Times of Youth: Being a National Champion in Pakistan, what is your biggest dream as a professional footballer?
Shahlyla Baloch: My dream is to play internationally for the women’s club of Barcelona.
- The oldest item in your closet? Cleats
- A thing of extravagance? cleats, jerseys, and makeup!
- Homeground or elsewhere? Homeground
- Game or money? Game
Times of Youth: What do you believe are your key strengths as an international level footballer?
Shahlyla Baloch: Dribbling and heading.
Times of Youth: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself as a sportsperson?
Shahlyla Baloch: I’m not sure. How about you rate me?
Times of Youth: Can you describe a time when your game was criticized? What was your first reaction and how did you cope?
Shahlyla Baloch: Have been criticized many times but that never stopped me from playing. I respect everyone’s way of thinking and I think they have the right to say anything they want to. I train hard to overcome my weak points and that’s how I overcome criticism.
What is the first word that comes to your mind when you read the following-
- Love: Football
- Parents: Role models
- Football: Life
- Youth: Future
- Nation: Pride
- Marriage: Waste of time
Times of Youth: In Pakistan, what’s the status of women football as compared to abroad?
Shahlyla Baloch: It’s very low as compared with the international standards.
Times of Youth: Do you think that there should be any motivational women’s sports based movie made in Pakistan (similar to Bollywood counterparts) to further motivate the women of the country and open more avenues for women sports’ development?
Shahlyla Baloch: Yes I definitely think there should be!
- What makes you extremely happy? Playing football
- The most motivating thing about you? I never give up
- Best de-stressor? Watching the sunset on the beach.
- If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be? My temper
Times of Youth: According to you, is PFF is paying adequate attention towards women football and what has it done for its upliftment in recent years?
Shahlyla Baloch: Yes it is! We have been participating in all the SAFF championships and we played our first Friendlies last year.
Times of Youth: Considering you have a background of a football-loving family already if any other aspiring female in Pakistan wants to play professional football, what would you advise her?
Shahlyla Baloch: I would tell her to work hard and never give up always think that the mission is supreme!
Times of Youth: Any message to your followers and admirers via Times of Youth?
Shahlyla Baloch: I’m humbled and filled with gratitude for my fans and loved ones for their tremendous support and for keeping my moral high. Never lose hope, today’s youth is tomorrow’s future. Keep dreaming and you’ll always keep achieving.
Interview by Rohayl Varind