Meet Karishma Ali- first-ever woman footballer from Pakistan who made it to Forbes ’30 Under 30′ List

The 21-year-old Karishma Ali became the first girl from Chitral to play sports on both the national as well as international level and made it to Forbes ’30 Under 30′ list.

Karishma is the founder of the Chitral Women’s Sports Club – responsible for training 60 girls and simultaneously encouraging their participation in sports.

Ali tweeted about the achievement and remembered her father who had supported her through and through. 

“Baba, look how far we’ve come,” she posted.

“Because of my dad, I was different,” she says, explaining that girls in the region did not attend school when she was growing up.

“The moment I started watching football, that’s when I knew I just wanted to play this game. I fell in love,” she says.”When I step onto the field or pitch, I forget all the problems I have in life, everything. I’m just focusing on the ball, my teammates, so focused on the game I just forget. it’s a different sort of happiness I cannot really explain.”

After years of only being able to kick the ball with her father when on picnics, it was when she went to school in Islamabad that she was able to join a team.Ten years after watching her first match on television, Ali would be selected to represent Pakistan in an international tournament, though it did not come under the umbrella of the Pakistan Football Federation.

“Ten years from now I want to see at least 10-20 more girls like myself who come back here [Chitral] after they’ve achieved their dream and work for the other girls that I was not able to reach out to and, slowly, I see a progressive society where men and women are working equally, where women do not have to stress about traditional customs, and be able to freely do what they can and see that I was part of all of this change,” she says.

“I want to see more women in leadership positions and then sit back and enjoy. This is what I wanted to fight for.”

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