The positive showing on display by the Pakistan women’s football team during their recent South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship outing has kindled hope for a future for the female sport here at home. The national team’s last match in the tournament against the Maldives ended with our sportswomen scoring seven goals while conceding none.

The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has come out in support for the women’s team and has indicated that it will be seeking out other international bodies to organise more matches for this exciting and talented team. This is a good idea and will be a step in the right direction to get some playing time for the team, but it does little to address the structural problems that inhibit talent from reaching its true potential in the women’s game.

We treat sports professionals—in particular women—with either indifference or active opposition while they are plying their trade, and the lack of any training or earning opportunities all but stifle talent. With the women’s football game, there are opportunities to play regionally, but little else. The lack of any structured league or domestic tournament which allows for the players to play and train continuously, but also earn from putting in so many hours into the game on and off the field, makes it impossible for most talented players to see a future for themselves in sport. This also makes it almost impossible for talented players to be noticed on the global stage to try and earn from football in other leagues across the globe.

It is clear that women’s football in Pakistan is brimming with talent—it is up to us to do something with it. Now that FIFA has lifted its suspension, the PFF must look to develop a lasting structure in place that allows for players to become true professionals and apply themselves to truly realise their potential.