The Silent Strength of Pakistan
If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you will know what an amazing man (and my friend) Michael Gallus, founder of the charity "footys4all" is. But when Michael told Sacha, Connie and I over a few drinks that he was travelling to Pakistan to support women's rights with sport, we thought this time he has gone mad, and we were terrified for our friend.
In this article, Michael speaks about the courage of women, but as a friend of Michaels, who is extremely humble, I know how courageous Michael was going on and throughout this journey. I hope you enjoy his story and news interview below. You are a true hero Michael who cares for so many.
Courage takes many forms throughout life, and in 2017 as the Pakistan Women’s National AFL coach I saw inspirational courage displayed in the form of 25 Pakistani women who travelled from their country to Melbourne to play AFL football for the first time.
Most of these women had never been out of their villages and cities never the less travelled to a foreign country to play a game that they knew very little about. It was this courage that inspired me when the opportunity arose to travel to Pakistan this year. Despite extreme security risks, the trip was essential to me to reunite with these women and grow the game of AFL across the country, especially with female athletes. And primarily to spark thinking about equal rights for Pakistani women. In a world-first, we travelled over 2,000 km across Pakistan, mainly by road from Karachi to Multan to Lahore to Islamabad running AFL coaching and information sessions to all who were interested.
As the only Western tourist across the country and the first white man many of the rural towns had encountered, my impact was profound, especially with the women of Pakistan who were given a voice on the sporting fields through the great game of AFL.
The resilience, courage, steely determination and intelligence of the women shone through and I have no doubt the rebirth of Pakistan to again be a great nation of the world will be through its women if they are given the opportunities to flourish in education, business, sport and politics.
The people of Pakistan opened their arms to me with overwhelming kindness and hospitality, which I am eternally grateful for and demonstrated deep down what a beautiful heart this country has. Courage is needed to affect positive change in society from everyone. And I know that through the bravery of all Pakistani women AFL players we have sparked thought and change in providing equality for all across Pakistan.