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Girls Football in Kashmir – Morethan Afshan’s Goal

Monitor News Bureau





Remember girls in news here?‘A’ for Asifa or ‘A’ for Asiya or ‘A’ for Afshan? Which way would you go? Since ours is not ‘C’ for civilized but ‘C’ for conflict zone, I dare not discuss the former two and also not ‘K’ for Kishtwar or ‘K’ for Kunan either.

Hence, I pen ‘A’ for Afshan and ‘F’ for football (though I ‘C’ for confess that my first F would go for f…..m.) and here goes the story.

Till recently, for me and many others, state’s football girl would mean only Afshan– onceportrayed as poster girl of stone pelters and now the captain of state football team, whose story of astounding transformation filled newspapers for days in the past.


To me, she is inherently a sportswoman, a natural Shot Putter (‘S’ for shot and not Stone and ‘P’ for putter and not Pelter) who dared to practice one Shot Put on the road only tobecome football girl of Kashmir. Or a few would know Nadiya – the first qualified female football coach of the state who defied patriarchy in the game to win many accolades. At the age of 20, Nadiya is already a star, of whose stardom I am witness to.Historically, from J&K, one RajniKumari has been the only footballer to have represented the country around 15 years back.But now girls’ football is Kashmir is not only about Afshan and Nadiya. It has many upcoming.

This February was full of football in both Jammu and Kashmir provinces, with the former hosting the men’s Maharaja Hari Singh Gold Cup football tournament at fag end of the month. In Kashmir, watching little girls play football on the astro-turf in TRC ground on February 26 was fascinating.Closing winter made Chinars around appear shivering and snow-covered mountains in the backdrop added to the chill on the ground. It was final of the 7-a-side U-12 Girls football tournament organized by the State Football Academy (SFA) of the J&K Sports Council under the aegis of J&K Football Association. The play area, time and the goal posts were tailored to the age-group.Girls would kick the ball right and left to the best of their abilities,the game looked agriculturist though. And in the end, Mallinson School team won it 4-0 against little known International School Kashmir (ISK).

The tournament was coordinated well by Qudsiya Altaf – femalecoach of State Football Academy and supported by her colleague NadiyaNighat and other SFA staff.During the presentation, all the speakers complemented the parents for supporting their girl children to play football, the game that came bring fame to many homes in future.

TanviShafi, 6th class student from ISK was excited to be part of the school football team. Her father says, “Tanvi is a born athlete already having a Green Belt in Thang Ta (a traditional martial art of Manipur in Northeast India). She chose to play football since the school authorities selected her to represent the school team. She has the capacity to represent the country in both the games and I am quite happy with her performance”. This time, Tanviin pink jersey ended up being part of the loosing team though, yet her footballer’s journey has just begun.

Similarly, Marukh another 6th standard girl from ISK looked energetic in the field. Her mother would cheer every shot she played and at the same time appeared drowned deep in the dream of Marukh playing for the country, someday. Before leaving for home, Marukh gave a smile and innocently said, “I want to become Messi.” Perhaps, she has never watched women’s football on TV to adore someone like Carli Lloyd or Lieke Martens. At this age, Marukh may not have the skill but her eyes reflect the passion to perform. She has the attitude to play football.Marukh’s mother is equally thrilled to watch her daughter challenging male bastion on the game.

J&K Football Association has been organizing girls’ football events since 2007 to encourage participation of this gender in the most popular game on the globe. Over the period of ten years, the participation has marginally increased from 8 teams in the year 2007 to 12 teams in 2018.According to S.A. Hameed, Honorary Secretary, J&K Football Association, “Girls tournaments in the state are happening for the last 10 years, but over this period, penetration of the game within the female folk is not overwhelming. Moreover, girls’ football is encouraged in private schools only that too predominantly by the schools located in Srinagar district – most particular being the famous Mallinson School. This school has a well-defined structure for various sports activities including football, in addition to the regular academic activities. But the game of football has no takers in other districts of the valley, perhaps due to cultural issues. Furthermore, Govt. schools have not contributed anything anyway to prompt girls to enjoy the game of football.” Further, S.A. Hameed says, “If the state women football team has to be competitive enough, it would require the Govt. to identify a school which would adopt all the talent across the state for training on football in addition to the regular academic work, which is a practice in all major states of the country.”

While valley girls are picking up skills in various martial arts, cricket, badminton etc., football is only at the nascent stage of development.It would take another decade to come up to the level when the state team would be in a position to pose challenge to the state teams like Manipur, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu etc.

According to Sajid Yousuf, presently Technical Director of State Football Academy who has worked as Head Coach of National Women’s football team, he would found himself uneasy for not having contributed to the development of girls’ football in his own state, despite having been Advisor for the women’s football development programme across the country. It was in this backdrop that he approached All India Football Federation for holding a girls grass-root level tournament in J&K. It was viewed that a successful run of the programme would boost other states to follow the footprints of J&K. To join hands with Sajid, came German Footballer AnjaPalusevic AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Technical Advisor and Sapna representing All India Football Federation.

Sajid is quite confident that with the support of the J&K State Sports Council and J&K Football Association, if events like this U-12 tournament happen at district levels, very soon, women’s football in the state would get transformed from recreational to competitive. Within a span of 4-5 years, the state team will be able to compete well with the mighty North-eastern teams.

AnjaPalusevicwho is part of FIFA’s Participation Project focused on the objective of increasing the number of female players to 60 million by 2026 globally in association with various confederations, says, “I look at this tournament as a funfair for young girls. The aim is to develop women’s football at the grass-root level in India and for this, the strategy to collaborate with the local schools has been adopted since schools offer safe environment for the children to participate in the game of football. Moreover, schools generally have the requisite infrastructure including the play-field which makes it quite easy to organize events like this one held on astro-turf.”

As Chief Guest, Anja was glad to see girls from this part of the world fight it out to win.Anja says, “I came to this beautiful valley in 2007 as tourist and then and there, I decided that someday I would like to contribute to this society. It was fortunately this year I got an opportunity to fulfil the promise I once made to myself. I felt that given the situation prevalent then, the girls here would not have enough avenues of recreation like dancing, aerobics etc. If football is introduced here, besides having fun, it can become a confidence builder among girls. The climatic conditions and genetic make-up here favours the game of football and if things are planned and executed well, this state can offer international women footballers in future.”

With even the most conservative countries allowing females to cheer for the game of football in the stadia, it is but natural that in future, football has to have many female takers here. The need is to embrace the game in all the schools across the state, so that girls’ football in the state does not continue to be only about Afshan’s goal!



Dhoni ‘unavailable’ for West Indies tour, takes two-month break to serve his regiment




New Delhi: The mystery surrounding Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his future has been solved for now. The former India skipper has decided to take a two-month break and serve his army regiment after a gruelling India Premier League season and the 2019 World Cup.

It is no secret that Dhoni had already made himself unavailable for the tour of West Indies, but he has now informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that he is joining the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army.

Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments said that the former India skipper has informed the BCCI of his plans and that this was in no way to be considered a move towards retirement.


“He has had a long season where he played the IPL with a sore back and then also played in the World Cup with an injury and he felt that it was important to take a break and come back fresh. With the selectors set to meet in Mumbai on Sunday to pick the squad for the Windies series, he has informed the board that he will be serving his army regiment for the next two months. This has nothing to do with retirement,” the source said.

Dhoni is an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army. Earlier skipper Virat Kohli had made it clear that the team management hadn`t heard anything from Dhoni on his future. But the former skipper has now sent across the message to all concerned.

In fact, while rumours were doing the rounds that Dhoni would have called it quits after the World Cup, those close to him had made it clear that it was unlikely. With Dhoni now informing the board of the sabbatical, there is clearly more to come when it comes to Dhoni serving the national team.

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ICC’s suspension of Zimbabwe Board is a wake-up call for PCB




Islamabad: THE suspension of the Zimbabwe Cricket Board by the ICC due to government’s interference is a wake-up call for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who need to exclude several clauses from its constitution which allow the federal government and the prime minister as its patron to intervene in the PCB affairs.

The PCB’s constitution was approved in 2014 during ex-chairman Najam Sethi’s tenure while earlier some amendments were also made by another former PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf. Though the media at the time had raised concern over those clauses which allowed government’s interference in the PCB affairs, Zaka had dispelled such concerns and had claimed that the ICC had approved the constitution.

However, the recent decision of the ICC to suspend the Zimbabwe Cricket Board after the Zimbabwe government had dissolved their board should be an eye opener for the PCB as well as other boards who encourage such interference from the government.


In the PCB’s constitution, one of the major clauses (number 45) says: “The Federal Government may, if it deemed necessary and expedient, make amendment in this constitution by way of repeal, substitution, omission, modification or addition of any provision thereof.”

In yet another clause (3), the patron may, from time to time, give to the Board general policy directions and the Board shall implement the same.”Moreover, the patron, who has not been elected by any forum of the PCB but automatically gets this position for being the prime minister of the country, also has the power to remove the PCB chairman and also to dissolve the most supreme body of the PCB — the Board of Governors — under special circumstances mentioned in the PCB constitution.

Furthermore, two members of the Board of Governors are to be nominated by the patron, too, and traditionally, one of them is elected as the PCB chairman.

t may be mentioned here that the ICC in the past has suspended the memberships of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and Nepal, prior to the Zimbabwe suspension for the same reasons of government’s interferences. However, the ICC chose to look the other way when the Indian Supreme Court formed the famous Lodha Commission to look into the BCCI affairs and to investigate the charges of corruptions in the IPL edition held in 2013.Though then BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke had verbally asked then ICC chief executive Dav Richardson to write a letter to BCCI, showing concern over government’s interference after the formation of the Lodha Commission, Richardson refrained from it and insisted that BCCI should first write a letter to the world cricket governing body apprising it of the situation and asking for action.

Shirke had alleged that ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, who was also president of BCCI in 2013, had submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court, highlighting the threat of the ICC suspension. However, he is reluctant to take any action as ICC chairman at the moment.

The PCB, which is pondering further amendments in the existing constitution to incorporate some clauses to change the currentt domestic cricket set up, will be well advised to revisit the clauses that allow govt interference in order to avoid any threat of the ICC’s action in the future.

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Morgan troubled by WC win, says not ‘fair to have result like that’




London: England captain Eoin Morgan admitted that he is troubled with the way the 2019 World Cup ended. England and New Zealand played out a match that was tied twice — first in regular play and then in the Super Over — and Morgan`s side won the title on the basis of their superior tally of boundaries in the match.

“I dont think its fair to have a result like that when theres very little between the sides," Morgan told The Times. "I dont think there was one moment that you could say: That actually cost the game there. It was quite balanced.”

In what has since been described as the greatest World Cup final ever and even the greatest ODI match ever played, the method of finding the winner has come under almost universal criticism and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was hailed for the way he handled the defeat. Morgan is normally known for his clear-headed approach and has been credited with leading a sea change in England`s attitude towards the white ball cricket but even he admitted that he is struggling to make sense of what happened in the final.


“Im black and white. Im normally going: I know. I was there, that happened. (But) I cant stick my finger on where the game was won and lost. Im not sure winning it makes it any easier. It would be more difficult to lose, of course,” he said.

“Theres no defining moment that youd say: Yes, we thoroughly deserved it. It`s just been crazy.”

The match ebbed and flowed and there were times when one side looked as likely to win the game as the other. Morgan said that he has been speaking to Williamson, with whom he has played on a number of occasions in the Indian Premier League, about the game.

“I spoke to Kane over the last couple of days on numerous occasions and none of us has come up with a rational explanation as to the various times we gave them the game and they gave it back to us. Like me, he can`t get his head around everything,” he said.

The 32-year-old, however, agreed that the final was probably the greatest ever cricket match. “By a long way. I cant think of a game thats come close. Madness. I should be cheery about it, shouldn`t I?” he said.

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