SPORT

Turkish minor defies 'Girls can't play football' cliche

A Turkish minor has defied the 'Girls can't play football' cliche, playing in the French football powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) academy in Turkey.

Zeynep Karakavak, 9, who has been drawing attention with her football skills and passion about this game, has been competing against boys on the pitch.

She started to play football over her friends' mock against her.

"My friends made fun of me as 'Girls can't play football' so I started to play," Zeynep told Anadolu Agency.

Her parents supported Zeynep as they saw that she was a football passionate.

"I joined PSG's academy after playing football in primary school for three years. I liked it as I played more. I feel more ambitious as I am the only girl among my friends," she said.

Zeynep is the only girl in the nine-year-old category as she plays football with 16 boys in the PSG academy.

"My biggest dream is to go to Paris to play on real pitches," said Zeynep whose favorite position is defense.

Her trainer at the academy in the western province of Bursa, Mucahit Samet Kahveci praised Zeynep as she is always developing herself.

Kahveci has been working as a goalkeeper coach for the PSG's football school in Bursa.

"Zeynep has been performing utmost improvement. She loves football very much and is incredibly dynamic. She is very hardworking. The only difference between her male teammates is her gender," Kahveci said.

He underscored that she could do whatever a boy does on the pitch.

"In fact she is better than some boys in the academy," Kahveci said to pay tribute to Zeynep's football skills.

Paris Saint-Germain have been seeking hot prospects, launching a worldwide football academy project in 2005.

The club has football academies in 15 countries, including Turkey.

In Turkey, it has four active camps in the capital Ankara, Istanbul, Bursa and Antalya as French and Turkish experts coach youngsters.

At least 13,000 children joined the academy activities this season, the PSG said on its website.

The French club has also a women's professional football team called "Paris Saint-Germain Féminine" competing in the top-tier Division 1.

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