Doha, Qatar: Attending the FIFA Women's World Cup has inspired a group of Generation Amazing youth ambassadors to encourage girls in their communities to play football and develop their sporting and life skills.
Saba Lakho, Raya Almoani, Anisha Khicha and Mashal Ghalib recently attended Festival 19 – a football for development event organised by streetfootballworld in Lyon, France, on the sidelines of the Women's World Cup.
The youth ambassadors shared a pitch with two stars of the women's game: German coach Monika Staab and Honey Thaljieh, the former captain of the Palestine Women's team who now works for FIFA.
Lakho, from Pakistan, said: "It taught me a lot to be on the same pitch as Monika and Honey. Next, I want to continue my football for development work and use the lessons learned back home. I want to expand the programme in Karachi – because I want more girls from my community to be able to play football.
"The things football has done for education, physical health and mental health in my community is great – I love seeing this change and that is what keeps me motivated to keep improving."
Lakho's football for development journey began just four years ago at the time of the previous Women's World Cup, and she has seen the positive impact of education through sport on her community.
"I started playing football four years ago," said Lakho, who attended the Women's World Cup final between the USA and the Netherlands.
"There is a local club called Karachi United and they had open trials. I went to play because I had always been a fan of football and would always watch it. I didn't know if I could play. Now I have been playing for three-and-a-half years, and have started teaching other girls in my community. I applied for the Generation Amazing programme, and have been a youth ambassador ever since, it has been a great experience. We have worked with children at schools and it has been amazing."
Lakho added: "Playing football really helps you develop as a person, nothing else could have helped me like this. We have worked with children in underprivileged areas, it keeps them out of trouble and in school. It also teaches them to live healthy lifestyles."
Having given an inspirational talk to the youth in attendance, Thaljieh said: "It was an honour and pleasure to be here with Generation Amazing, meeting all of the youngsters from different parts of the world and inspiring them through football. It is fantastic to see their passion, to see their commitment, to see their hard work and their dream for a better future through football.
"With Generation Amazing giving them the opportunity, it is a great platform. They need opportunities in order to excel in life. They have a lot of potential and skills, they just need that opportunity. With Generation Amazing, they can make it happen and they can make those dreams come true."