"Not Just Bending it like Beckham, our Samaira's followed him to the States!"

4 min read
Check out today's London Local newspaper "Luton Today" and you will find an article about FirstPoint USA women's soccer client, Samaira Khan. Check out this interview from Samaira as she talks to the paper about going out to the USA on a soccer scholarship to Tennessee Wesleyan College : JUST six weeks ago she was playing football on a cold Sunday afternoon in Luton. But now Samaira Naseem Khan has flown over 4,000 miles and swapped the University of Bedfordshire to pursue a soccer scholarship in America. The 20-year-old says her journey has not been an easy one, and that there have been plenty of times when she has felt like giving up on the beautiful game. At the end of last year she was offered the scholarship by Firstpoint USA, after being scouted by them for three years. She will be studying at Tennessee Wesleyan College and her coach and mentor will be Naomi Clarke, a former professional soccer player. Sam, of Nunnery Lane, Luton, started playing football when she was just six years old, first with her school team at Icknield Junior School, and with Luton Town girls. Despite thinking it was a phase she would grow out of, her family always supported her, but she did face opposition from others. She said: When I was 13 I was told by a boy from her school that girls shouldnt play football, they should be in the kitchen. The comment hurt but I decided to ignore it. For many girls, playing football is not an easy choice, with sexism still a part of the game. Unfortunately, its not just sexism that Sam has had to deal with in football, but also racism, something that continues to rear its head despite many years of campaigns to kick it out of the sport. Ive been called a Paki by another player during a game, and opposition fans have also made racist comments towards me, says Sam. One fan once said, Christiano Ronaldo is a great player but cant take a challenge and is foreign, like you. It makes me angry but it doesnt surprise me. Some narrow minded people and some fans give vile abuse to players, the only thing I can do is try to ignore it and not react, otherwise they win. She thinks punishments for racism in football should be harsher, and that victims need to be more willing to report incidents. But she doesnt think the problem will ever disappear completely. If someones racist, they are racist, she said. That wont change but we should not have to put up with it. But the root of the problem is in society and until that changes and peoples attitudes change, things will never change on the football pitch. The determined youngster has drawn a line under the abuse she has suffered and believes she is a better player because of it. Sam joined Dunstable Town Ladies in 2005, when the team was known as St Martins, and helped the team to its League Cup win in 2010. She had her own personal achievement of winning the top goal scorer trophy back to back for four seasons, a feat that saw the trophy named after her. But she insists credit should also go to her teammates and coaches at the club, saying: I thank every single player that helped me win the trophy four times. Without their passes and crosses it wouldnt have happened. I would also like to say a massive thank you to Barry Ross and Martyn Fisher for making me into the player I am today. Life across the pond sees her getting up, going to classes, having lunch, more classes, football training, an hour in the gym and then dinner and home. And she said university life is very different in the State. The culture here is much more diverse, its more driven for success and hard work, and its less about partying. Her advice for other aspiring female footballers? Enjoy yourself, play hard and train hard, and if youre serious, put your all in and you will reap the rewards. Check out the interview in full in Luton Today

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