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Blackburn: Documentary explores lack of representation in women’s football

A university student is highlighting the lack of South Asian female representation in women’s football.

Areeb Dar from Blackburn filmed a short documentary on the issues surrounding women’s football in Blackburn and Salford.

In it, he speaks to footballer Alice Eaves and BBC sport journalist Miriam Walker, who talks about feeling isolated being one of the few South Asian women in the footballing world.

Mr Dar, 21, said: “I wanted to make this because of the impact it made on me and because not a lot of people talk about South Asian women in football, so this is representation for the community.

“I have always been interested in football, but I was not aware of the women’s side of things and just want to represent the women.

“The main thing is that it puts the girls on the map and shows them you can do anything you want.”

There are a lot of stereotypes for South Asians girls in places like Blackburn explored in the documentary.

Mr Dar said: “I spent two or three hours reading tweets on women’s football and you would be surprised at the things people are saying, like ‘go back to the kitchen.”

“I want people to be less ignorant and realise that women’s football used to actually be more popular than even the men’s side.”

Mr Dar spent time with a girls football team at Blackburn United to understand why there was a lack of South Asian women in the sport.

He said: “They only had a girls team but no proper women’s team which did raise questions, but they are trying to get people to understand the team and get behind them.

“As I was watching the girls play, I realised just how happy they were to be there, and I wanted to push that so the community and other South Asian girls and their families could see that.

“Girls themselves do not go into it because of the lack of representation.

“If you also don’t see anybody that looks like you then you will not do it. In Blackburn there is a fear of being judged by their own community.”

One of the things Mr Dar hopes the documentary also helps with is teaching people that women’s football is indeed different, but not less enjoyable.

He said: “People expect it to be the same but it’s not and you have to watch it properly to understand.

“I think the council maybe should start some initiatives to help get more South Asian girls into the sport.”

Boys in South Asian families will be encouraged with sports like football and boxing, but girls are not encouraged the same way. Mr Dar hopes this will change with the documentary.

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