2 July 2019

A little over a year ago, Mahdiyah from Sport Against Racism Ireland in Dublin discovered she had a heart condition that left her fearing for her life. Today, she’s playing football under the Lyon sun at Festival 19 and to help break the world record for the longest-ever game of football. See the second installment of our Festival 19 pitch-side interviews series.


We’re here together at Festival 19 to promote and work towards making football a game for all, we would be interested to know how equal you consider your own community in terms of gender equality. On a scale between one and ten, where does Dublin place in your opinion.


I would say 5/10 and I speak not just of Dublin but of the world.


How could we change that?


I would first start with the pay gap. That is the biggest obstacle in my opinion to empowering women and creating a more equal world. I think it’s ridiculous we’re living in such an advanced, modern world and yet we still abide by such outdated systems, where women are still somehow worth less than men. We need equal representation. It’s so important that we have the same amount of men and boys as women both in the room and making decisions because what we want is equality.


If there was one thing that everyone at Festival 19 could learn from you and take home with them this week, what would it be?


That it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or who your parents are. Who you are in the moment is the most important thing. If you can be the best version of yourself in the present, you can be the best version of yourself in the future and beyond.


What are you most looking forward to at Festival 19 and why?


So, every morning we have been rehearsing this dance with the other young leaders that we learnt and I can’t wait to teach everyone when they arrive from Dublin because I know they’re going to love it and get into the spirit straight away.


What has been the best thing so far and why?


Being part of a world record - it’s not very often you get to say that. At the end of this week, I’ll be able to say I took part in the longest-ever football match with Equal Playing Field through Festival 19, with all these young women from across the world by my side.


Seeing as you’ve just set a world record, if it was up to you, how would you like to set the world straight. If you had one crazy idea to change the world, what would it be?


I think if I really wanted to change the world, with one action, I would eradicate all war and violence. I would make it impossible to hurt someone through a physical act. People use violence to divide people. However, I think if we sat down together as people and we used dialogue, we would be in a much better position in these fractious times. Look at Ireland, it’s a small place with a violent history. But look how we’ve been able to move beyond that. I think it could be seen as an example for the rest of the world.


For such a huge task, you’re going to need a bit of support. If you had to pick a five-a-side team, made of the people you needed in order to change the world, who would you choose?


My mum. My mum is very, very strong and a great speaker. Barack and Michelle Obama but as one person, because I believe they are one of the best examples of a team. I think both in office and outside of it, together they have influenced so much change that I believe in. Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, I would have to pick, simply for leading change globally. And last but not least, I think my little brother. He keeps me sane and if I’m the manager I have to keep it together.




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