Doncaster Rovers Belles star Nadia Khan to fly to Kathmandu to join new team-mates ahead of international debut in Nepal; Khan to become one of the first British-Pakistani women ever to play internationally for Pakistan, capping a remarkable month for South Asian women in The Game
Friday 26 August 2022 07:13, UK
Nadia Khan's paperwork is complete and the Doncaster Rovers Belles star is now set to make her international debut for the Pakistan women's national team.
Sky Sports News can reveal Rovers Belles midfielder Khan is set to fly to Kathmandu this weekend to link up with her new Pakistan team-mates, who are returning to international action in the South Asian Football Federation Championship (SAFF) in Nepal, beginning the first week of September.
Khan, who qualifies to play for Pakistan through her parents' heritage, will become one of the first British-Pakistani women ever to play for the national team.
The Pakistan Football Federation has moved fast to assemble a team to play at the SAFF Championship after their recent international suspension due to undue third-party interference was recently overturned by FIFA.
Khan now looks set to take on an important role at the tournament for Pakistan's women's team, who last played an international match in 2014. She will also be one of the first beneficiaries of the Pakistan Football Federation's new equal pay policy, which is seen as a huge step for gender parity and women's sport in the country.
It caps a whirlwind rise for Khan, who shot to prominence when she scored a 45-yard screamer - labelled as an early contender for the FIFA Puskas best goal award - for Rovers Belles against Solihull Moors last season.
Khan, 21, is a former Leeds United Girls' Centre of Excellence player, who has been playing for Rovers Belles since 2018.
The technically-gifted attacking midfielder is in red-hot form and won two penalties in a thrilling 4-3 win for Rovers Belles away at Nettleham on the opening weekend of the season.
Sky Sports News understands Khan was one of at least a dozen potentially-eligible overseas players - including West Brom's Mariam Mahmood - that were approached about their interest in representing Pakistan.
Speaking ahead of South Asian Heritage Month in her first interview with a major platform, British-Pakistani Mahmood opened up to Sky Sports News about her love for West Brom, where she has come through the ranks. That caught the attention of scouts trying to rebuild Pakistani women's football, who contacted the club directly about Mahmood's potential availability.
Sources close to Mahmood have told Sky Sports News the 18-year-old is "honoured" to be considered for international selection by Pakistan. Sky Sports News has also been told the striker's sole focus right now is on continuing her development as a footballer to try and fulfil her potential.
The 18-year-old striker is a former England Colleges international and is highly-rated by West Brom director of football Dave Lawrence and manager Jenny Sugarman.
Mahmood came off the bench to make her first appearance of the season in West Brom's opening day loss to Nottingham Forest last weekend.
Meanwhile, Manchester United academy youngster Safia Middleton-Patel has earned her first call-up to the Wales senior squad.
The 17-year-old goalkeeper, who had loan spells at Blackburn and Leicester last season, has been called up by manager Gemma Grainger for their next round of World Cup qualifiers.
Middleton-Patel has enjoyed plenty of success with Manchester United at academy level and has played across the age groups for Wales at youth level.
It caps one of the most extraordinary months for South Asian-heritage females in the history of the English women's game, with Sikh-Punjabi midfielder Roop Kaur Bath also making a debut for West Ham at the beginning of August in her first taste of senior football.
Kaur Bath, who recently joined West Ham's WSL full-time academy and has just received her GCSE results, was given 25 minutes off the bench by manager and former England international Paul Konchesky in a pre-season game at Hashtag United.
The midfielder, who is supported by the Sporting Equals and Sky Sports partnership, showed some neat touches and put in a composed performance in front of 350 fans as she made her first appearance for the Hammers, aged just 16 years and 11 days.
England youth international Simran Jhamat also completed a move to Championship side Coventry United, making her debut against her former side Bristol City last weekend.
The glaring lack of ethnic diversity at the elite end of the women's game was brought sharply into focus during the Women's Euros, with England fielding an all-white starting XI in all six of their matches at the tournament.
Sky Sports recognised and began taking steps to address the lack of diversity in the women's game back in 2020 as part of its £30m commitment to tackle systemic racism and make a difference in communities across the UK.
Sky Sports has worked with dozens of current and former players from diverse ethnic backgrounds, and has tried to give them a platform to share their stories to try and capture the imagination to inspire the next generation of female footballers.
Talent has been identified and signposted directly to the Football Association and clubs as part of Sky Sports' unprecedented commitment to British South Asians in Football, which has also seen us devote a section of our website to raising awareness about South Asians in The Game, and create a dedicated rolling blog.
A number of elite and elite-potential female players and their families have also been supported with mentoring and access to off-field developmental opportunities.
Earlier this year, Sky Sports also partnered with the country's largest sports race equality charity, Sporting Equals, which has seen us support participation across the country, including devising the 'Seeing Is Believing' event for century-old west London sports club Indian Gymkhana.
For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and South Asians in the Game blog and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital
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