Jammu and Kashmir has been in a state of turmoil with bleak stories of violence, lethal attacks and protests being the only ones coming out of the state.
However, sports has provided the youth from the strife-torn state an avenue to express themselves and their potential to the world, giving them an opportunity to break out and excel.
From Parvez Rasool, who is an household name now, to the gritty para-cricketer Amir Hussain and the very talented woman cricketer Rubiya Sayeed, the stories of J&K players overcoming many barriers to make a mark provide inspiration for not just the Kashmiri youth but also young athletes from the rest of the country.
Spinner Rasool’s rise from Kashmir to the Indian team has provided fuel for many from the state to dream. With good performances in the domestic circuit, many upcoming cricketers are grabbing the attention of the stakeholders of Indian cricket.
Star and superstar
While Rasool is a Kashmiri star, the superstar would be Amir Hussain of Lone village.
Hussain, who lost both his arms in an accident at his father’s bat manufacturing sawmill in 1997, when he was just eight, is the captain of the Jammu and Kashmir para-cricket team.
A big fan of Sachin Tendulkar, Hussain bats by holding his bat between his neck and chin and bowls with his legs. He loves to play the glance off his legs towards square leg, mimicking the favourite shot of his idol. The 26-year-old uses his right foot to grip the ball and bowl leg spin.
While Hussain’s story is about overcoming physical odds, Rubiya Sayeed’s is about breaking stereotypes and a glass ceiling.
Kashmiri women are slowly but surely announcing their presence in the social, economic and political mainstream of the state and beyond.
Rubiya, who hails from Badasgam of Anantnag district in south Kashmir, recently played for the North Zone women’s team in a inter-zone tournament organized by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Mumbai.
Sayeed made it to the North Zone team after an outstanding performance in BCCI’s Under-23 Women’s League, where she scored 160 runs with an highest score of 82 in a match against hosts Punjab.
With the criticial political and social circumstances prevalent in the state, it is very diffucult for any youngster to pursue a career in sports as regular training, equipment and access to coaches are all scarce.
That’s what makes Rasool, Hussain and Sayeed’s achievement, be it at any level, all the more special, illustrating the power of sports to provide hope for a better tomorrow.