Breaking Down Barriers, Kashmiri Women put on their Athletic Shoes

Kashmiri Women

One major incentive for women in Kashmir to succeed in sports is the Central government’s special focus on athletics, particularly for girls. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of female athletes registered in the valley thanks to the provision of top-notch facilities.

A quiet revolution is taking place in the male-dominated society of Kashmir, where women are putting on sports shoes and breaking down barriers.

These women are rewriting history against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, dispelling long-standing stereotypes.

One such young, driven professional football player who disregarded social conventions in order to follow her love of the game is Nadiya Nighat. She is the first and only female football coach in Kashmir and has transformed perceptions by embracing her passion for the game. She is now aiming for greater objectives.

Her ponytail flutters in the wind, and her deft body movement propels the ball towards the opposition’s goal. “I was always drawn to the idea of speed, and my first goal at the Junior Nationals in Jammu was, looking back, a turning point in my life,” she remarked.

At Amar Singh College in Srinagar, where she began playing football, Nadiya was the lone female player among 47 boys. “The girls from the neighbourhood stopped talking to me, and their parents were very critical of me.” Even my mother was against me, and there was a great commotion at home,” the woman claimed.

But Nadiya had her father’s steadfast support, who also persuaded her mother to let her play. Her breakthrough came when she chose to coach an under-19 boys’ team that competed in the “Khelo Kashmir” state-level championship.

Girls who thought sports were unattainable have now been motivated by her story to pursue their dreams. It is now normal to see girls in jerseys pursuing their dreams without fear in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley.

For girls in Kashmir, Bilquis Mir, an Olympian who began her athletic career two decades ago and overcame all obstacles, serves as extra motivation. Mir, who is from a middle-class family, has achieved great success in kayaking and canoeing.

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