Kurdish Women “Bend It Like Beckham” Pursuing Freedom

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Last week I happened to tune into Bend It Like Beckham on Lifetime (4/30).  I’d seen this flick before but I adore it, so I sat through it again, this time with commercials.

In case you don’t know the film, it’s about a British family of East Indian Sikh heritage who don’t approve of their youngest daughter playing footbal (soccer). In fact, they want her to conform to tradition and get married, while she has other dreams…

When I saw the film again, I thought of a story I’d seen about Kurdish women and football.  It offers a glimmer of hope after last week’s story about the further suppression of Saudi Arabian women (See: While Obama Blows Off Women’s Freedom as He Celebrates His First 100 Days, the Saudis He Bows to Clamp Down on Women Even More (UPDATE 1X – Souter Leaving Supreme Court).

Here’s the story about a team of Kurdish players…who happen to be women (pictures at the site).

Kurdish women seek football freedom

By Jaafar El-Nasrawy
BBC Arabic, Erbil

Kurdish women’s football teams are still pretty new.

The first only started a couple of years ago, but they are being seen as a way to prize open the door to more equality in a male-dominated society that takes a dim view of women in sport.

In Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish administration that rules Iraq’s northern provinces, there are eight women’s teams, with around 20 members in each squad.

One of the best in Erbil’s football league table is Fatat Erbil (Erbil Girls).

The team manager, Mrs Kafi Raouf Seddiq, says women footballers have to overcome many social prejudices.

“Kurdistan has a tribal and religious community that believes that it is a taboo for women to play football in front of spectators,” says Mrs. Seddiq.

“So we held special meetings with the players’ families to convince them that if women are good at football they should be able to use their talents and show off their skills.”

Just like the young woman in “Bend it Like Beckham”, these women have overcome societal and family resistance and pushed for their freedom.

“Football is a first step towards freedom and liberation for Kurdish women,” says Sanaa Karim, one of the players of Fatat Erbil.

She believes that it is that sense of empowerment which is the main motivation for women who struggle to overcome prejudice as well as the lack of training equipment and limited competition.


Women’s football is supported by the local Kurdish government, but officials in women’s teams believe that the support they get is less than that offered to men.

But despite all the obstacles, women’s football matches are becoming popular among the public.

The women players want to take on a men’s team, too.

I say, GO FOR IT!!