Srinagar, February 29: The playground of the Youth Sports Hostel in Kashmir has become a venue for women cricket practice in Kashmir.
The change has been affected by Sakina Akhter, a lady cricket coach posted in Kashmir University. It is only because of her, regular women cricket camps are being organised in the campus and almost every morning girls in white uniform are seen at the nets.
32 years old, Sakina has emerged as a hope to the girls who have left passion of cricket halfway to fill social obligations. She is Valley’s first qualified woman cricket coach and has received training from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). She got in KU in the year 2009.
Talking about her journey in the sport, Sakina told the Tribune that achieving the feat has not been easy and it took her 15 years of toil and constant social struggle in the conservative Kashmir to reach where she is now. She loved cricket since her childhood and used to play with the boys of her locality. But as she grew up, she was restricted to play with boys by her family. However, this did not minimize her love for cricket and she started practicing inside the four walls of her home.
She started playing in the gullies of downtown in 1990’s, when militancy was at its peak in the Valley. It was considered as a taboo back then.
She was even scolded by her neighbours and relatives. One of them even dragged her back to home while she was playing outside her home. But she never gave up.
She said that she used to hang the ball from the ceiling of her room to practice with the bat.
She also referred two of her friends who were also passionate about cricket, but then succumbed to social pressures and left playing. However, Sakina passed the difficult times and she proved her caliber by being chosen as the first woman cricket coach of the University of Kashmir. She was 19 when got selected in the state’s woman cricket team.
In the last few years as a cricket coach, Sakina has trained thousands of budding cricketers, including boys. It was her idea to start a training camp for girl cricketers and now organise regular camps for the girls of Kashmir who are passionate about cricket.