Hadiya Hakeem has been studying at Chennamangallur Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode, Kerala for the last three years, after moving from Doha, Qatar. However, she has had to give up training in her favourite sport, football.

“Kerala loves football. But if you look around here, there are only men playing the game,” Hakeem told The News Minute. Local soccer clubs are all men’s clubs. In school, boys take over the field during physical education period, while the girls play badminton or sit idly waiting for the class bell to go off.”

The boys in her batch at school were impressed with her skills, and encouraged her to request for an opportunity for a freestyle showcase before the annual football cup tournament began at their school (above). The tournament is only for boys, but this time it saw intricate freestyle moves from 17-year-old Hakeem while the boys teams look on.

While the video of her performance went viral on social media, and gained much praise, Hakeem told The News Minute, “I don’t want to be reduced to a performer. I can actually play football. But I do not get to play anymore as girls here don’t play the game. No one trains girls also.”

The dearth of opportunities for young women to formally train in Mukkam, Hakeem’s neighbourhood, has led her towards freestyle performance. She often picks up tricks seen online, replicating them and posting the videos (below) to social media.

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