With big hopes to achieve success at national and international levels, the young girls of Pak Shaheen Boxing Club and Karachi United Club train themselves every day after school for boxing and football.
Some of these girls shared their stories and talked about their passion for sports on the last day of Creative Karachi Festival during a session, titled ‘Girls in action: Lyari Boxing Club and Karachi United Football Team in conversation’, on Sunday evening.
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Punching their way to top
Speaking at the session, the ambitious Lyari girls talked about overcoming gender barriers to learn boxing. Hafsa, who is one of the 18 girls who are currently being trained at the club, said, “We want to fight on international level and we will not disappoint our nation, unlike our cricket heroes.”
Azmeena, another young boxer getting training at the club, said they are the ‘best boxers’ as they have not lost any of the tournaments that they have competed in so far. This is despite the fact that it has only been six months since they started training for boxing. Recalling her first tournament, the young boxer said that she beat her opponent who was much more experienced and stronger than her.
One can notice the passion for boxing in their voice when the girls talk about it. Talking about her love for the sport, Misbah said that she had wanted to learn boxing ever since she was a kid. “There was a boxing club for boys near my home when I was young,” she recalled, adding that she used to sneak into the club to see them training.
“One day I told them I want to learn boxing, but they refused saying that the club doesn’t train girls.” Misbah, whose favourite boxer is Amir Khan, said that even her family did not take her seriously when she told them about her desire to learn boxing. She added that it took her a while to convince her family and she later joined the boxing club for girls. “We can win, all we need is support from you all,” she said to the audience.
“Boxing in Pakistan begins from Lyari,” said Younis Qambrani, the founder of the Pak Shaheen Boxing Club. For the girls, he is not just the owner of the club, but he is also a mentor and their coach. He talked about the importance of getting girls involved in sports and told the audience to encourage others, too. The young boxers also demonstrated some of their boxing moves for the people at the session. The girls showed the audience the fierce side of themselves, proving that they cannot be stopped once they put on their boxing gloves.
Passion for football
Three girls from the Karachi United Club shared their stories with the audience at the session. The club has been offering free football coaching to young girls since 2010. Currently, the club has under-10 and under-12 squads.
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Ten-year-old Haniya, who has been playing football for the last six years, is one of the girls getting training at the club. Eight-year-old Eshal started playing football when she was six, while Zainab started two years ago. Talking about why she started playing football, Eshal said that it was her brother who encouraged her. One of the common things that could be seen in all these girls was the family support that they got, which encouraged them to fulfill their passion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2016.
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