The Sportsman

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She lived with taunts and tensions but a supportive father helped Nadiya to become Kashmir’s first football coach, who now trains boys and aspires to create an all-girl football team, reports Zubair Sofi

For her passion, Nadiya Nighat trimmed her hair to get a boyish look. Reason: she wanted to play football but it was an all-boys game.

Nadiya Nighat, Kashmir’s first football coach (KL Image)

In 2007, Nadiya, then 13, joined a coach Mohammad Abdullah in Amar Singh College grounds. She was the only girl in a number of boys. There were no options as no female coach was around. Everything was normal, till some of the boys got into argument with the coach: “You are training us with a girl”. The boys were facing taunts and they communicated it to their coach.

“Quickly and firmly, I made a decision,” Nadiya said. “I went to a barber and trimmed all my hair.” It did not change her gender but surely altered her looks.

A year later, Nadiya started a proper training camp Rambagh Grassroot Training Center. That was a new experience.

Born to a family with modest background, she was passionate about the game throughout. Her father, Mohammad Sidiq Batloo 50, a labourer, and settled in Srinagar’s Ram Bagh, faced the tensions in the conservative society for how her daughter looks.

“My father has faced a lot of it simply because I used to play with boys,” Nadiya said. “But he never stopped me.” The reaction from the society actually led her to choose her passion as a career.

In 2010, three years after Nadiya entered the football grounds, she was selected for an under-19 national match to represent the state. She was striker of the team. In the maiden match, she scored two goals. Since then, she continues to be team’s striker.

In 2014, Nadiya got grassroots coaching course, by All India Football Federation, a certification permitting her to groom six to twelve years age group players. “It was an opportunity for me to create a platform for other girls,” Nadiya said. “Without any hesitation, I met all the requirements and started my classes.”

A year later, Nadiya started a proper training camp Rambagh Grassroot Training Center. That was a new experience. She started with few players and now it has 50 boys and girls. Now she provides coaching without charges on the same ground where she trained herself. But that did not stop to learn more. She honed her skills by undergoing referee course under J&K Football Association.

Efforts started paying. “I was surprised to get an invitation from AFC with an offer to apply for the D license that would authorize me to train under-19 players,” said a smiling Nadiya. In 2016, she qualified the D license course and became a professional football coach. Now she has two football academies: JJ Boys and JJ Girls (JJ stands for her nick name Jiya Jan). Even her jersey has JJ7 written on it.

On the occasion of Eid, when Nadiya was supposed to come home and join her parents, she filed her resignation to SIA and returned home after sacrificing her future.

Her teams participated in a CRPF managed tournament the same year. JJ Girls trounced 12 team to wrest the championship as JJ Boys played impressively but ended up runner ups in a 32-team competition. By now, two of her trainees were selected for the under-19 team to participate in a national competition.

In a bid to stay fit,  Nadiya joined boxing classes in February 2016. After two months in practice, she played state championship of boxing in Jammu and clinched silver. Her Jammu sojourn coincided with Sports Authority of India conducting trials for selection of candidates for coaching in boxing. She passed the trial and was selected. For next six years, she will have free coaching, free accommodation and free education. This encouraged her family to make a grand welcome to her once she returned from Jammu.

Soon, she was in Haryana coaching for boxing till early this year. However, it disrupted her football classes in Srinagar.  She was caught in a strange situation: on one sides was her future and on the other side the ftre of her students. “I was not able to decide what to choose, on one side it was my family’s hope and on other side there were my students,” said Nadiya. Finally she quit SIA. On the occasion of Eid, when Nadiya was supposed to come home and join her parents, she filed her resignation to SIA and returned home after sacrificing her future.  This a sportsman spirit, people say.

 

 

 

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