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Pakistani Girls Soccer Stars Visit VOA

Visitors hope to inspire other girls

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Washington, D.C., April 17, 2009 – Ten girls who are soccer stars in Pakistan toured the Voice of America (VOA) today, with one saying the team's visit to the United States would be an inspiration to others in her native country.

"In Pakistan it is difficult for a girl to play football (soccer), but this visit has given us the opportunity to inspire thousands of Pakistani girls," said Sana Mehmood, 19. "We hope many will follow us."

VOA's Urdu and Pashto services interviewed the girls, who range in age from 12-21 and are from Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

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They are members of the "Young Rising Stars Female Football Club," a group that is part of the State Department's Youth Enrichment Program (YEP). The club team has played in many tournaments in Pakistan and won the first All-Pakistan Inter-Club Women's Football Tournament in August 2008.

While in the United States, the team traveled to local high schools, soccer clubs and universities to learn new soccer skills. They also focused on health.

"The fitness and nutrition information we learned is very important," said player Zara Kyani. "This was all new for us."

The team also learned about Title IX, the U.S. law that requires equal opportunity for young female athletes.

To see more photos, check VOA's Facebook page:

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail