Breaking down the barriers: ‘First-ever’ women’s cricket match held in Pakistan’s Swat Valley
After enduring several restrictions and roadblocks, girls in Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, have finally played a “first-ever” women’s cricket match in the Kabal tehsil.
Women cricketers from Kabal and Mingora tehsils participated in the match, which was played in the ground of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School Kabal.
During the 10-over thrilling contest, the Mingora women’s cricket team emerged as winners after beating Kabal by seven runs.
The Mingora Eleven scored 129 runs in the allotted 10 overs. Manahil and Mehwish of Mingora Eleven scored 76 and 28 runs, respectively. The Kabal Eleven players played aggressively but they could not chase the target and lost the match.
The game was attended by a large audience, which included female spectators, Babuzi Assistant Commissioner (AC) Luqman Khan, Kabal AC Junaid Khan, organiser and taekwondo champion Ayesha Ayaz, coach Ayaz Naik and others.
After the match, trophies, certificates and cash prizes were distributed among the players. The women cricketers expressed their happiness and recalled how they had been barred from playing the sport.
Over the weekend, several clerics and a group of elders in the Charbagh tehsil had prevented the girls from playing cricket. They had called women’s participation in sports “immoral.” After outcry from players and locals, Swat Deputy Commissioner Dr Qasim Ali Khan had instructed officials to find a suitable location for the match.
In a tweet, Swat DC Dr Qasim hailed the performance and sprit of the schoolgirls. “It was a thrilling encounter. The skills exhibited were second to none. Keep rising the prides of Swat. For you sky is the limit. District Administration of Swat will leave no stone unturned to acknowledge & appreciate the proud daughters. Indeed the pride of the proud!!!!,” Dr Qasim posted on social media platform X.
Sapna, one of the players, said: “I can’t find the words to describe how disheartened we felt when certain individuals prevented us from playing in Charbagh. It made us question whether we were not considered human beings and whether we had no rights.”
She said that she and her friends had been restless after that incident. “But today, I am overjoyed that we were given the opportunity to play in front of a large audience and we emerged victorious,” she added.
Ayesha Ayaz, a 13-year-old budding taekwondo player who has secured two gold medals and one silver medal for Pakistan, stressed that the women of Swat possessed “remarkable talent” across various domains, including sports.
She advocated encouraging female participation in sports activities, asserting that they should not face obstacles but be granted opportunities to showcase their abilities and contribute to the nation’s prestige.