June 2013 in Greensboro, North Carolina

Pakistan Field Hockey Sports Visitors Program

Field hockey was just the gateway for Team Pakistan’s empowering sports exchange during their visit to Greensboro, North Carolina this June. By the end of the trip, they had not only perfected their “jabs,” playing against some of the U.S. National Field Hockey team players at Wake Forest University, but they discovered their new favorite sport – rugby – and watched in awe from the stadium seats as the Carolina Phoenix Women’s Professional Football team took the field in a fierce battle against the Atlanta Explosion. “I never thought women could be this strong and play such a tough game. I really want women of Pakistan to play football and one day be able to come here and play against the U.S.,”said Coach Chand, during an interview at the end of the program.

The University of North Carolina Greensboro, official partner of USA Field Hockey, hosted our team and provided them with a real college experience with dorms, cafeteria dining, and playing fields. Dr. Donna Duffy, Program Director for the Program for the Advancement of Girls and Women in Sport and Physical Activity, is a former field hockey player herself and helped coordinate many of the training sessions as well as a special luncheon with the Provost of the UNCG.

Their experience grew even deeper through physical training with University of Tennessee Ph.D. student Alicia Johnson where these girls learned proper warm-up techniques and body-weight exercises that they can teach their teams back home. Through our “strong women. better world.” curriculum, the girls discussed important issues facing girls and women in their community, and how those girls can build a better future through sport.

One of the most eye-opening moments for the team was their visit to Horsepower, a therapeutic riding center, where they watched as children and adults with physical and mental disabilities rode horses and performed different exercises. They also spent time there volunteering together to improve the quality of the fields for horses and riders.

In the final days of their visit, our team visited the YWCA where they taught some field hockey basics to the girls, and shared their cultures through games, dance and learning to draw each others’ national flags.

Before departing, the girls presented “Action Plans,” that they will implement upon their return to Pakistan. The program came to life in their eyes as they passionately shared how they wanted to start clubs within their schools to strengthen women, teaching them to be strong, to find their voice, and make their world a better place. We look forward to watching these empowered women and girls over the next few years!