- – We still have a lot to do, but I know that with hard work and determination we will shock the football world – says about women’s football in Iran Kat Khosrowyar, the coach of U-19 team.
Is it hard to play football in Iran?
To be very honest football runs in the blood of Iranians and it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman to love the sport. Some people even consider it a way of life. For example, your either a Perspolis F.C fan or an Esteghlal F.C fan, and based on what
team you support that’s where you find your circle of friends.
How did you start playing football?
I started playing when I was 5 years old for a local team in Tulsa, Oklahoma USA
because of my father. He just signed me up because he heard it’s a powerful way to
drain energy so I could sleep at night. Little did he know that it would end up being my path in life.
WYWIAD Z KAT KHOSROWYAR PO POLSKU ZNAJDZIESZ TUTAJ: Kat Khosrowyar (trenerka żeńskiej reprezentacji Iranu U-19): Ciężką pracą i determinacją zaszokujemy jeszcze piłkarski świat
Your father is Iranian but you were born in the United States. How did you get to Iran?
Summer of 2005 I decided to come to Iran for the first time to visit my grandparents
because I knew I wouldn’t see them for a long time since I was going to start my senior year of high school and then go to university to play football in the US. I was meant to only stay for 2 weeks and had enough clothes for that amount of time.
I read that in Iran you couldn’t play football. There was only futsal, buy you „hated it”. The day you were set to leave, you were asked to be a part of Iranian women’s national team.
The only form of training and staying in shape that I had was to play futsal with the
women’s national futsal team. Word spread that an American girl was in town and
that’s when the head coach of the first women national team (post revolution)
approached me and asked me to join the team.
At the age of 24 you retired from football. Why?
After the first coach I had in the national team left to coach the national futsal team I
didn’t feel I was receiving the right information from other coaches that started to train us, especially after 2011 when we were disqualified from the Olympic qualifications. This was an area which I thought at the time that needed to be more supported and to be involved in; to start a high level coaching degree.
You always wanted to be women’s football coach? How did your journey start?
I never thought that coaching football was my career path because I have my masters in chemical engineering and have been working in the oil and gas industry prior to taking coaching more seriously with the national team. After receiving my AFC/FIFA A license I was assisting other coaches for all age groups of the national team and in the beginning of 2018 that’s when the federation asked me to start full time as head coach because they believed in me that I could create a strong team for the first time.
How did you look for the girls to your team?
I scouted most of my players from friends from various cities. Also social media has
been a great tool to help find talent because most girls would send videos of their
skills/games/trainings and if I thought they had the right criteria I would travel to see
them play or invite them to a national team training camp.
How your trainings look like?
Depending on what the aim is or the tournament is we have between 5 days of training (with two camps a day) up to 14 day trainings a month (usually with two camps a day) and some break with a lot of team work activities and entertainment.
Most girls are students and we have study hours and if they need a teacher during camp the federation hires one. I have a great technical director and we usually organize and set up each training session based on what we want the girls to learn. More importantly we try to organize friendlies as much as possible because the best teacher is playing a game! I want the girls to be well-rounded and not just become footballers, but to become future role models.
What methods do you use in your work? What is the most important to you?
Communication is extremely important for me. I speak to all my players on a daily basis to see what they did throughout the day during training and also to check up on their mental health.
Iran women football has a tremendous amount of talent and I feel like we are very behind compared to rest of the top level football countries in Asia and I want to teach them as much as possible in the shortest amount of time, that’s why even my fitness and conditioning is via football training and rarely in the gym.
Another method I have which I learned from growing up in the US is teamwork because when I first came to iran and when I first started coaching it was mainly a me, myself and I approach and ever since I changed their mentality with regards to how they see being a teammate, I see great improvements.
Recently, you qualified to the final round of AFC U19 Women’s Championship. How do you see the future of Iranian football?
We have a lot of work to accomplish before the next round at the end of April. The girls now need to work 100% more than before if they want to make it to the final round because the opponents are much stronger and I know that with hard work and determination we will shock the football world.
What are the differencies between Iranian and foreign football?
Before, women’s football was forced to exist because of FIFA rules and regulations. But now, all the men are coming to support us and want to be involved to help us reach high levels in football and to become a world-class team. The difference I see compared to other countries vs Iran in regards to football is that we are a real football nation. Our emotions, daily schedule, friends revolve around football.
This month you and your team were the first women to watch the men’s national team game at the stadium. That means something in Iran is changing?
It doesn’t mean a total change, yet. It means that the movement has started and that’s the important issue that has taken over the entire country. This movement has taken shape in a way where everyone is talking about it even in the newspapers and social media, on a daily basis!
Have you ever regretted that you stayed in Iran and haven’t played for example in USWNT?
I sometimes think about what would have happened if I stayed in the US and continued playing in university and for the regional team to potentially have the opportunity to play for the national team but if I would have done that I wouldn’t have been able to start a more unique movement which is ever-lasting for a country and their women.
Women football in Iran is something no-one ever thought would become successful or even a movement and I am here to make sure this movement goes forward in the best way possible.
Fot. Instagram Kat Khosrowyar