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Mala inspired by children’s love for football

Suva women’s head coach Karishma Mala knew nothing about football until her son Dikshit and daughter Nishita’s love for football inspired her to take up a coaching course.

FijiLive caught up with the 34-year-old, who plays several roles from being a mother, wife, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law and a senior accountant in her husband Sushil Bhan’s business, Active Aluminium Doors & Mirrors.

Mala is one of those mothers who can battle any odds for the safety and security of her children, be it taking out time from work and household chores to pick and drop them for football training at the Fiji FA Academy in Vatuwaqa daily basis.

“My husband is a crazy football fan and that’s where my children’s love for football came and they started to play football. I used to bring my children at the Fiji FA grassroots development program and that’s where I saw females teach football to children.”

“One of the female instructor’s told me that why don’t I get enrolled in the program and at first I was hesitant because I’m always busy with work and family. My son and daughter urged me that I should try and that’s when I decided to take up this challenge.”

“The coaching course was very difficult but also a good learning experience for me because I got to know things that I wasn’t aware about football such as when a players is at offside spot, how to set up team structure, game plans and the style of football.”

“I’m very thankful to the coaches who guided us through the coaching program because they taught us from the basics to the highest level of OFC/MA Grassroots Coaching Certificate, OFC Goalkeeper Coaching Certificate Courses and FIFA/OFC C-License Coaching Certificate.”

The mother of four who hails from Bulileka in Labasa also highlighted the challenges she encountered but was determined to battle all the challenges.

“Taking up the coaching course was tough because I had to sacrifice a lot. Sometimes my children had to wait for me but lucky my husband was there to take care of them. I would spend less time with my family especially I have a three year old daughter who always needs my attention. I had to miss work as well.”

“When I started coaching in Suva, the main women’s team has players who are older than me and have a lot of experience in football. So I challenged myself that I have to take up the team’s responsibility as the coach and also under the senior players. I had to show them why I chose to coach them and how I can help them in the Women’s Super League.”

“It was really tough to adjust with the girls because they were shy of me but coach Inosi really assisted me during the training and then the girls got along me.”

“The other challenge which I face is that women’s game is always free whereas if the men’s team play, fans have to pay $5. Even not many fans come to see women’s football so we always try to encourage and motivate our families and the players’ families to support the girls.”

Mala added that women can break barriers if given the opportunity and is appealing to male counterparts and families to show their support towards excelling females.

“For me my biggest support was my family especially my daughter because she plays in the Suva Under 19 and also the main team which I coach. On the field I am her coach and at home I’m her mother.”

“She took some time to learn that and now whenever she makes mistake, I can’t be lenient on her because the other girls might feel she is favored which will pull down on team morale.”

“I have been playing futsal soccer as well because I always had an interest in that. My message to other women who want to pursue a career in any sport is that be humble and be ready to take up challenge because Fiji FA has been running this program for us women to excel in football. If you succeed you will win and if you lose, you will learn.”

“I also want to urge all the males that if your daughter, sister, mother or wife has a dream to pursue never stop her, instead support her never mind what the society will say. Women have the ability to take several responsibilities but they always need support from their loved ones.”

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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