Isra Khan Represents Pakistan in Olympic Qualifiers

Dickinson’s own Isra Khan represented her country of Pakistan in Olympic qualifiers recently. 

Stepping onto the field, playing forward for Pakistan’s Women’s soccer team, Isra Khan ’26 wore Pakistan’s green uniform.

Khan said, “I became aware of how big my support system is, family-wise and friend-wise…It’s not just about me playing, but representing my family and where my mom’s family grew up too.”

Khan started playing soccer at the age of six, crediting her dad and siblings for getting her into the sport. Khan says she was thrown into soccer at a young age and she did not look back. 

Khan was again thrown into the world of soccer, this time at the Olympic level, after being recruited by the Pakistan’s women’s team.

Spending 12 days in Pakistan, Khan played three games over the course of that time. Pakistan first went up against the Philippines, followed by Hong Kong and Tajikistan. Beating Tajikistan was cause for celebration, because the game was Pakistan’s first FIFA win. Khan said of their big win, “It was pretty cool to be a part of the team that made history.”

“The team is fairly new. Only a handful of girls were over the age of 21,” said Khan. She further explained the team dynamic as “welcoming” and noted their talent and potential as a young team.

In response to the question about the difference in scale playing for Pakistan compared to Dickinson, Khan said, “That was one of the biggest shocks. They did the entire FIFA official walk out; playing the national anthem, a man with a camera panning in front of you as you sang the national anthem, and the stadium was massive. Everything was at a bigger scale including the competition. It was definitely unlike any games I’ve ever played before–definitely an experience I’m grateful to have had.” 

Like many athletes, team bonding on the bus was one of Khan’s favorite memories during her time in Pakistan. She described the music, dancing and stress relieving goofiness that took place as well as the scenic views from her window as she experienced Pakistan for the first time. 

Khan is grateful for this experience and recognizes that not all athletes, particularly women, get a chance to represent their country. She said, “A lot of girls don’t have the same opportunities with this sport. In the country [Pakistan] it is not very common for women to be playing sports, so a lot of the girls I talked to, they either played with boys or futsal, which is a smaller-sided 6v6/7v7 game. They don’t really play 11v11, because they don’t have the numbers or facilities for bigger games. That didn’t stop any of the girls.” 

Dickinson prepared Khan to play on the global scale. Khan specifically complimented Head Coach Ted Zingman for instilling the “value of being a good team member,” which Khan brought with her as she played in the Olympic Qualifiers. Khan gave the example of always encouraging and cheering for her teammates, regardless of who is playing, which she saw both at Dickinson and in Pakistan. 

Khan has a bright future and soccer career ahead of her. She was unable to attend training camp this year, but hopes to participate this summer or next year. Khan said appreciatively, “It’s kind of crazy to think about the fact that I can be playing soccer into my 20s.”