Dorothy Perkins for #IWD2020: Steffi Kaur
When Steffi Kaur was eight, she played football with her father and got hooked to the game. Her love for the sport grew as she pursued her hobby with the other kids in her neighbourhood—standing out as the only female player in a group of boys.
But what was then a hobby eventually developed into a full-time passion—Steffi participated in the national team for the first ever international tournament (AFC U-19 Football Championship) in 2006. Hailing from a family of sportspeople, the Perak-born footballer credits her parents as her main support system, citing that they’ve been supportive of her career since day one. In conjunction with International Women’s Day, we glean some lessons from the sportswoman and instructor on what it takes to be a football player in Malaysia, along with her take on what “feminism” truly means:
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“Nothing is impossible in this world unless you think it is.”
How is the futsal scene changing here in Malaysia? Do you think there is a real shift in terms of diversity?
When I started out 12 years ago, the scene was really small and quiet. There were girls who played futsal but only a handful of them. Today, there are social leagues and teams, companies creating teams and sending team for tournaments, and more—it is changing and we’re seeing a major shift in diversity as well.
Why do you think women are good sportswomen?
I’ve seen the dedication and hard work that both men and women put into sports. Based on my observation, I think that women can actually be more competitive than their male counterparts, whether in a tournament or match. They get more intense and competitive in these games, which is good thing because it pushes the player to do her best in order to be the best and win.
What was your biggest challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
All the injuries I had sustained! Once, I had this hamstring injury and I had to rest for almost two whole months to recover. It’s tough because that injury happened right after I competed in the national futsal league, and was preparing to be part of the national team. I’m pretty sure that most athletes face the same problem too. But what really helped was undergoing physiotherapy twice a week, along with strength training to build and strengthen my muscles.
What’s the most rewarding part about being a national futsal player?
I think it’s seeing how the league has grown into what it has become today; not to mention, looking back and realising how far along I’ve come. I remember the sense of pride I had when I represented Malaysia in the SEA Games back in Myanmar back in 2013. When we won bronze, it felt extremely rewarding especially since my parents and friends flew all the way there to support not just me but also our country. It was surreal! Now, I teach at a futsal academy for girls and it’s very fulfilling to see their passion and excitement for the game—it’s exciting to be part of a team that grooms future players.
What would you say to young women who are looking to do what you’re doing?
Just do it! All you need to do is take a ball and kick it around in a park or in a court. Better yet, join random games in the park—that was how I started out as a child. Now there are even football academies where you can learn and train, and these academies will take you to games where you can broaden your horizons. You’ll never know until you try and from what I’ve observed, women on the futsal and football field can really kick a**.
Get to know more about Steffi in an exclusive interview below: