Author Topic: Kashmiri schoolgirls Bend It Like Beckham  (Read 776 times)

Offline David

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4229
    • View Profile
Kashmiri schoolgirls Bend It Like Beckham
« on: May 15, 2008, 07:10:06 AM »
Srinagar, May 15: Drawing inspiration from the likes of Sania Mirza, young girls from conservative Kashmiri society have begun breaking into male bastions even if it means taking to the rough-and-tumble of football.

Dressed in T-shirts and trackpants and some in 'hijab' (veil worn by Muslim women), a bunch of them can be seen dribbling away with gusto at a football field Srinagar.

The group of 45 schoolgirls are undergoing coaching at a camp organised by the Department of Youth Services and Sports during which a team for Srinagar district will be selected.

The team will play in the under-19 girls football tournament to be held at Kargil in June and the next step will be the national level under-19 championships.

The trainers say they are a bit "raw" considering women's football is new in Jammu and Kashmir, but their "eagerness to learn" compensates for the shortcomings.

"My brother is a football buff who eagerly watches European league soccer on television. Gradually, I became interested in the sport and when the opportunity came my way, I grabbed it," Ruqaiya, a Class IX student of Government Girls' Higher Secondary School at Khanyar, said.

Asked if she knew any big names from the footballing world, Ruqaiya admitted, "I have not paid any attention to the names as I was more engrossed in the game. It is just so absorbing."

Sabiya, a schoolmate of hers who has also made it to the coaching-cum-selection camp, said although Sania Mirza is a tennis player, her success had prompted her to take up sports as a career option.

"Look at the fame and success achieved by Sania; she is as big a star as any cricketer in the country. I just want to do the same with football," Sabiya said.

Both Sabiya and Ruqaiya believe that taking part in sports activities is important for all-round physical and mental development, irrespective of gender.

"Why should there be discrimination between boys and girls? What is good for boys, should be good for us as well," they said.

The girls have joined the camp for varied reasons from getting a participation certificate to motivation by the sports teacher of their school.

"I am here because the sports teacher said it would be good for my future," Nida Nazir said, while another girl, who did not wish to be named, wants to make it to the nationals.

"It will help me in getting admission in a professional college through sports quota as competition in the open merit category is very tough," she said.

Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, who is coaching the team along with Talib Hussain, said it was the first time the department was conducting such a sports activity for girl students.

"We have had girls playing other sports including cricket but football has happened for the first time," he said.

About their talent for the game, he said "initially, I thought it was hopeless to train these girls, but they have shown the enthusiasm to learn. I am sure they will do well if they continue with the game for next three to four years".