American Influence in Iran
Iran is a country where two worlds are colliding. Their political world steers the country in one direction and the general population goes along unwillingly. Ask them publicly and they will be cautious about America, yet in private, they embrace freedom and America for the most part. They love American products. They prefer American to Chinese products. One day, the government will change to more moderate views of America, yet, American culture is sought by those under age 30, which outnumber other age groups.
The most recent proof of this influence is Katayoun Khosrowyar, 27. She is a chemical engineer, an American-Iranian, who arrived with parents and lived in Oklahoma. She went to a local high school. She is 100% American with Iranian roots and family still in Tehran and speak no Farsi. It is typical of seeking the American dream and how freedom does set one free to achieve and influence. Diversity is America's real strength.
Being American, she visited her relatives in Tehran after graduating from high school. These are people she knew nothing of, except from what her parents had told her. When she arrived in Iran, she had not planned to stay but her relatives were so loving and generous, she decided to do that. While there were difficulties in not being free, she and other girls shared one common interest- soccer. She tried out for the women's national team and won a spot. Meanwhile, she started a "futsal" club for girls under age 14 who wanted to played soccer. The response was amazing. What Iran lacked were women who could train and coach soccer for girls.
Since 1979, Iran virtually banned nearly all sports to women and girls. It seems the insane clerics who lead the government then and now, still have a problem. But, thanks to the American-Iranian, this has changed. Soccer remained off-limits to women and girls because of culture. Women who played soccer had to be totally covered up, all body parts except the face. This makes it very difficult to play and makes for very uncomfortable conditions for players. To any soccer player, this is insanity. Up until 1999, the only international competition sport women were allowed to compete in was riflery and taekwondo. However, despite the rules against, many Iranian girls and women played soccer by joining futsal clubs. This did not start until 2005, when the government relaxed the ridiculous prohibition. That was the year that this American-Iranian arrived there. Her futsal club remains popular and spawned many other similar clubs to train girls in soccer. All this came about in 2005, when Jordan invited Iran to send a woman's soccer team to compete in the West Asian Football Women's Soccer Competition. At that time, Iran did not have one! So, Iran, had to locate players somehow. When Kat started the futsal club, it became a breeding ground for players where talent was looked for. By 2008, she had become the team captain for Iran's national women's team. How ironic, it took an American to achieve this!
In 2005, media outlets there refused to show women playing soccer, even if fully covered. But, gradually, this changed and the Internet greatly altered public opinion from "this is not acceptable" to " why shouldn't a woman or girl play soccer"? The government made things difficult in nonsensical ways, for instance, even though Iran had a woman's team, any team that played them was required to also dress completely covered! So, most international teams said, "eff that", we won't play you then. This aggravated women's soccer in Iran because of Islamic customs in a modern world (they don't always make sense). So, the government then invited foreign teams to a "special" stadium where previously, women could play without covering their heads. Foreign teams were told that did not have to comply with Islamic customs in this "special" stadium. In 2012, the Iranian women's team was disqualified because Iran insisted on that women must wear head covering. The world did not agree. This happened again in 2011.
Thanks to this American, Iran has its first under-14 girls national soccer team. There are over 5000 girls in Iran in local futsal clubs started by this American who decided to remain in Tehran after seeing family members.
American culture and spirit has made Iran a better place for girls and women.
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