A wicket on the third delivery in a local cricket tournament silenced Iqra Rasool’s critics for good. Mohammad Abu Bakar tells her story of her on and off field struggle
In August 2015, when Iqra Rasool, then 14, started her long run-up to deliver the first bowl of the match, everyone in the audience looked on in both surprise and shock.
Iqra, a resident of Dangiwacha village in Rafiabad, Baramulla, was the only female participant in Baramulla Premier League, a cricketing tournament for boys.
As her first delivery was hit for a huge six the crowd broke into laughter and taunts. “They were laughing at the idea of a girl competing with boys,” said Iqra.
The laughing and taunts mixed with gender specific comments intensified when the next ball was hit for a four.
“I had come a long way since I first rebelled against the so-called norms. There was no turning back now,” said Iqra.
But, without losing her focus or let these taunts take a toll on her talent, Iqra began her run-up for the third delivery.
As the wickets started tossing around in the air, the same crowd who was mocking her presence among boys, erupted in jubilation and started showering praises on Iqra.
“That single delivery changed my life,” feels Iqra.
Iqra’s small room in her two storey house is full of trophies and cups, testifying her defiance and achievements.
A Class 11 student, whose father runs a bakery shop, Iqra knows what it takes to challenge the norms set by the society. “It is difficult to follow your dreams when you live in a conservative society,” feels Iqra. “It is painful to see people still talk about separate roles for boys and girls.”
But once Iqra is on the playfield she forgets about the crowd and their questioning eyes and concentrates on her sports.
The first opposition to her dreams came from within the family when Iqra’s brother tried to stop her from mingling with the boys. “But I didn’t listen to anybody and kept playing,” said Iqra.
As no other girl from the village showed any interest in cricket, Iqra became a lone struggler. But Iqra’s talent soon earned her admiration and accolades from her teammates.
In her journey as a cricketer Iqra recalls how her sports teacher, Sarfaraz Ahmad, was always an encouraging force.
In 2011, during lunch-break at school in her village, Sarfaraz saw Irqa taking wicket of school’s best batsman with ease.
“I made up my mind to help nurture her talent,” recalls Sarfaraz.
Then on Sarfaraz’s insistence Iqra pursued her dream seriously, thinking of making it big one day.
“I want to play at the international level. That is my dream,” said Iqra.
In 2015, Iqra participate in a tournament in Telangana, where she took three wickets in the finals. She was part of under-17 team. “My performance helped my team win the trophy,” recalls Iqra.
Iqra has also participated and led her school team at various levels. “I had played national level tournaments as part of state team.”
As trophies and awards started filling her room, Iqra saw people’s perception changing for better.