कई प्रतिबंधों को पारकर क्रिकेट को बनाया जुनून

Meet Sakeena Akhtar, Kashmir's first Cricket Coach

Earning the distinction of being the only qualified cricket coach in the Valley hasn’t been a cakewalk for Sakina Akhtar. As a girl when she played cricket with boys, her uncles and parents rebuked her for acting like a tomboy in a conservative society.  But her passion for cricket led her to devise ways to reach the goal she had set for herself. “I would tell my father that by playing cricket I would get a certificate that would get me admission in a medical college; that pacified him a little. And I went on to become a coach. Today some men I coach are older than me,” says Sakina. As she grew up, she stopped playing with boys in the neighborhood but found her brothers as teammates at home. The situation in the Valley scuttled her ambition of playing cricket at the school level. It was only after 1997 when she did her matriculation and got admission in Kothibagh Higher Secondary School, she became passionate about the game once again. In 1998 at Kothibagh School, the physical education teachers selected her during a trial when she had bowled only one ball. After that, there was no looking back for Sakina. She captained the school team for two years, played in an inter-school tournament, and was awarded women of the match award. “Then we won the inter-district tournament. So my actual cricket career started there,” she said. She was vice-captain of the team from the state selected for All India C.K Naidu under-19 Tournament in 1999. The team emerged as runner up in the finals. Sakina was awarded Woman of the Series award for scoring the highest number of runs and as the highest wicket-taker. Considered to be the outswinger bowler by her coaches, Sakina earned respect and support from her peers.

Sakina has the distinction of being the first woman from the Valley with a diploma from India’s leading sports institute, the Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports at Patiala. Sakina is presently the Cricket Coach in the University of Kashmir, coaching male and female students. And she does it with élan. “At NIS we have to coach our coaches during the training so it is difficult for me to handle these boys. I have begun my stint with KU on a positive note; we have won a match against Srinagar Blue Club by 4 wickets recently,” she said. Qayoom Channa, one of Sakina’s coaches motivated her to do a diploma from NIS. “Out of 44 candidates who had applied for admission only 16 were selected which included two girls, me and a girl from Delhi, and 14 boys. Among men, some were international and Ranji players. I was least experienced among them and it was very hard for me to compete with them, but I did it,” Sakina says.

After finishing her NIS in 2005, Sakina came back to the valley and joined Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council where she started to coach small children. She coached girls of her alma mater, Government Girls Higher Secondary School Kothibagh, and Women’s College M.A Road.
Prof Khursheed A Tarzan, Director of Sports Kashmir University, said, “We can appoint a person as a coach who has NIS diploma. Only she qualified for the post. We have appointed her on a contractual basis.” At this time Sakina has focused her zeal on winning Mirza Noorudin Memorial Cup, which is being held at Kashmir University grounds. In the future, she wants to produce quality cricketers. Sakina says, “About 80 percent of people who play sports in our state do so only to obtain a certificate that would fetch them admission in professional colleges. There are very few serious players. It is not easy to get admission in NIS. The person should have at least three or four national certificates to reach there. The people here do not want to work hard and there is no short cut to success. People of Kashmir should realize that girls can achieve anything they want to achieve, provided they are supported by their families.”

(Text Source: Greaterkashmir)

Tags: Sakina Akhtar  |  Woman Cricket Coach  |  Jammu And Kashmir  |  Under-19 State Girls Team |  First-Ever Qualified Woman Cricket Coach