In a few choice locations around the world, sexism continues to dominate the landscape. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Iran, where women are banned from taking part in, or even viewing certain sports. However, a brave Iranian-American is combating this trend with nothing but cleats and her spirit.
Katayoun Khosrowyar, 27, moved to Iran when she was only 17. An avid soccer player in the states, Katayoun couldn’t speak the language, but she knew how to kick a ball. Never allowing herself to be deterred, Kat started to teach the local girls. Before her arrival, no Iranian girls played soccer regularly, but a decade of her active community involvement introduced nearly four-thousand girls to the field.
Though finding coaches and filling leadership roles has proven difficult for the burgeoning team, they continue to forge ahead. Iran’s recent reintroduction to the global fold has Kat and cohorts excited at the notion of promotions and sponsorships. An injection of much needed capital can help bring Katayoun’s teams into the daylight. Fighting against a lifetime of sexual oppression, Kat and the other women simply want to enjoy a sport. Though smaller clubs have been operating since 2000, they were almost always indoors and secret. Wanting more for her teammates than secrecy, Kat’s mission is a noble one.
Becoming the captain of the national team by 2008, Katayoun’s mission was always one of spreading awareness. A mission made difficult by Iran’s strict broadcast rules, oftentimes refusing to air their games. Playing in the traditional full-body coverings, rival teams refused to play as it would be required for them to do the same. Though the players are fighting cultural bias, they still hold onto their traditions with pride.
During a qualifying game for the 2012 Olympics, Iran’s team was disqualified because they refused to remove their traditional garb. However, the ban galvanized a wave of support for the team in their home country. Television programs all over the country airing clips of their valiant stand. Kat’s story is one of persistence and strength. Doing so much more than introduce a sport, Katayoun Khosrowyar showed her fellow Iranian women they can succeed against any opposition.
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