Woman in her locality mostly stay indoors or work in the fields but her love for cricket took her to a very different field. Javaid Naikoo reports.
Most women in Jasiya Akhter’s neighbour hood stay home but she chose to become a cricketer.
‘‘Since my childhood I was enthusiastic about cricket and it never came in my mind that being a female I cannot do what a male can do. Today, I can see among men and woman of my age that I have achieved more than anybody else,” says Jasiya.
Today at the age of just 21 she is the leading all rounder woman cricket player of Jammu and Kashmir. Jasiya is the only woman cricket player of the valley to have won the gold medal in her debut tournament at state level in the year 2004. She has also won a gold medal at the national level in 2005 in an Under-19 cricket tournament played at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Besides she has twice won the best athlete award, one in 2004 at state level and another in 2005 given to her by Government of Maharashtra.
Jasiya’s journey from a remote village Braripora in Shopian to winning national-level awards and playing with top level cricketers in India is a story of dedication and hard work. She comes from a family, which could not afford a proper cricket kit for her. But her passion for cricket did not let the sufferings take away her dream.
Currently Jasiya is playing at the national level with renowned international woman cricket players.
“It is an honor for me to play with world-renowned cricket players like Anjum Chopra, Shashi and Reema in this tournament, besides we also get a chance to meet different cricket coaches and Board members of BCCI,” says Jasiya.
Jasiya says that these and some other famed men and woman cricket players of India always encourage me. “These and some other players and coaches who have seen me playing say, ‘you are capable of playing in Indian team straight away’,” she says.
However, Jasiya believes that lack of infrastructure and shortage of professional coaches is “killing the talent and passion” of players from the valley.
Another unexpected hurdle in the young women’s career came with a shoulder injury in early 2011. However, she recovered completely and returned to participate in a state-level cricket tournament in the same year organized by Youth Services and Sports Kashmir.
Jasiya took 15 wickets and scored more than 200 hundred runs in the tournament. She also scored a half century against Kashmir university team and was declared the woman of the tournament.
‘’Shoulder injury was a serious concern for me, but Almighty Allah healed it quickly for me. I proved my determination for this game in the tournament, performed the same way I used to, and as always, I am much passionate about cricket once again,” says Jasiya.
Currently, Jasiya is playing for state cricket club as vice captain and believes in encouraging other girls hailing from remote and urban areas of the valley.
Jasiya had her schooling from a Government school in her area and is currently pursuing B.A second year from Government Degree college Shopian.
Jasiya also had a couple of missed opportunities. “When famous Indian woman cricket coach Ms Usha visited Kashmir, in June 2005 she had enquired about me. At that time I was outside the state playing a cricket tournament. Second time when another famous Indian woman cricket coach Reshma Gandhi met me in Delhi and offered to take me in the Delhi cricket club,” However, in both the cases Jasiya could not get back to the coaches for want of money. She could not afford a trip to Delhi.
According to Jasiya, cricket among woman has a positive future in Kashmir provided passionate girls are provided proper infrastructure and appropriate coaching facilities.
Jasiya says she and many other players could excel in different sports if they are given help and a chance at the appropriate time.
“Help me and give a chance to me and other players of the valley like me, nothing is impossible provided one gets a chance at an appropriate time to prove his or her talent,” she appeals.
Jasiya has a wish. She wants to play for the Indian team and prove herself at the international level.