By Fawad Hussain
Tides have change in recent times when it comes to women taking part in sport and even going on to represent the country on global arena.
Besides various indoor games, the nation is represented in cricket, football, tennis and even athletics, but when it comes to the most talked-about cultural sport of the region – kabaddi– it’s only the men who don the greens and have taken Pakistan to being a major force along with India and Iran.
Pakistan’s involvement in the kabaddi World Cup was a credible effort, ending third in the event. The World Cup Kabaddi Championship, solely for the women for the first time, will be held in March where 16 countries will showcase their skills for the title. But there will be no female participation for Pakistan despite a huge following of the sport complemented aptly by effort. The simple reason: Pakistan do not have a female kabaddi team. The reason behind it is very complicated: a potential threat for those who show an effort to form one.
Ironically, Muslim countries including Bangladesh, Iran and Indonesia will be among the participants. But it’s not that Pakistan’s kabaddi officials have not tried to form a team. Sensing a realistic chance of winning a medal at the 2010 Asian Games, where the discipline made its debut, the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) assembled a team a couple of years before the competition. The team visited Iran for a series but was soon disbanded after criticism from various quarters.
“We became an instant enemy for many after we formed the women’s kabaddi team,” recalled a senior PKF official. “We were suppressed in many ways and we even received death threats and were abused. There were complaints lodged against us with ministers, calling an end to the national squad. We were left with no other option but to disband the team.”
The official added that Pakistan have the potential to win laurels in women kabaddi in international events.
“This sport is played at the highest level, including the Asian Games. Our women have a good chance of winning medals as we have a lot of talent. Plus our country is full of mentors and there won’t be any training or guidance issues.”
The official rued the fact that the sport had fallen victim to misconception, adding that ‘the dress code in women’s kabaddi is not rigid and the team played with full track suits in the series against Iran’. The hopes, however, of forming a women’s team still exist, confirmed the official, who added that they were just waiting ‘for the right time’.
The writer is a sports reporter at The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2012.
Photo Note: While several Muslim countries, including Bangladesh and Iran, have formed women’s kabaddi teams, the notion has been frowned upon in Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP