This year, West Potomac’s Junior Varsity football team recruited junior Ubaida Ahmed, who is the the only girl on the team. Ahmed is determined to make a difference, on the field, and in others lives through setting an example of how girls and women can achieve a dream and do the same type of sports that boys and men can do, if they are willing to put in the work needed.
She said that she expressed her interest a year earlier, when she first inquired about the sport to the coach.
“They said that I could [play], but [needed] to have everything in [just] as the guys [did] and prove to them that I want to be in this sport; and I did.”
Just like being on any other athletic sports team, Ahmed recognizes the importance of being a team player.
“You have to be on time, do the work, protect your teammates, and be a part of a family,” said Ahmed.
With great effort, she has proved herself willing and capable of doing all these things. She also wants to inspire others and contribute positively within the school’s community through playing football.
“ Just being there and proving that you can do something that most girls can do is an inspiration, a good thing,” she said.
Although she knew it would be challenging to be outnumbered on the team, Ahmed was motivated to try out.
“I didn’t see any girls on the team, and [peers] kept saying that football was a guy sport and [that] it was hard, and no girl can do it,” said Ahmed, “So I wanted to prove them wrong, and I wanted to show other girls that it’s okay to play ‘man’s’ sport.”
She also expressed the importance of taking chances to abolish these commonly perceived ideas about women in sports.
“I know some girls that are really good or great [at sports], but don’t play because they keep saying that its a guys sport,” Ahmed said.
It is needless to say that this football season tested the traditional for Ahmed and her team; even her locker room experience is quite different than that of her teammates.
“At first when I joined the team I thought that [I] was going to be in the boy’s locker room– but then they gave me my own locker room.”
Because Ahmed prepares in a separate locker room, she is often away from the rest of the team, missing classic moments of team bonding, exciting pre-game hype, and practice time.
“[The boys on the team] sometimes don’t get me when they’re going to play games or practicing, so I have to go outside every two seconds to check on them to make sure that they haven’t left me.”
Ahmed also discussed another obstacle–not only is this her first year playing on a team with the opposite sex, but her first time ever playing the sport of football. Prior to football season, Ahmed received training in rugby, preparing her for the physicality involved with playing a contact sport.
“They only treat you differently when you don’t know what’s going on, which I didn’t because it’s a new concept to me,” Ahmed said. “Once I got the hang of it they put me in the games and practices, so it makes it easier and [the team] treats you like any other guy.”
Although Ahmed encountered a fair amount of challenges while on the team, she continued pushing, proving her commitment and determination. Her overall message is to push boundaries to prove others wrong.
Ahmed’s words of wisdom also included a message for girls to participate in sports.
“Don’t be intimidated by the sport because people keep saying its a guys sport or a man’s sport;…it’s about you proving that you can do it like the other guys can, not give up…because some girls are really good. I’m a girl, I’m [not only] going to do it,…but [i’m going to] do it as a guy would.”
Ahmed encourages girls to ignore stereotypes and pursue their talents and hobbies, no matter what they are. Her participation in West Potomac’s football team can be seen as inspiration to take chances to project positivity while being involved in the community.