“My aim is to make sure that Pakistan gets full participation in international events, and especially women. In three years, we will see so much change,” former weightlifter Nuzhat Jabeen makes her priorities clear as she became the first woman to hold the office of the General secretary of the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation (PWLF), earlier this month in Lahore.
Nuzhat is an athlete who is now working for the athletes that she believes deserve better. Nuzhat have been a part of the PWLF since 2006 and she has been playing her role in the women commission.
She got elected as the General Secretary after the elections that took place on July 3. The General Council elected the office-bearers for the next four years, and for Jabeen, the work has always been tricky, but achievable. She is eyeing the Commonwealth Games and South Asian Games (SAG) as well for the athletes, especially women.
“I am still happy with the men’s side, but it is the women that really need more focus and the Commonwealth Games is the upcoming opportunity. Then there are SAG that will also take place in Pakistan, so the goal is to go for the medals and set the aim high,” Jabeen told The Express Tribune.
“Good performance is important and with my position as the secretary, I feel it will give more confidence to the women weightlifters. I have been a part of the PWLF since 2006. We all worked together to start women’s weightlifting back in 2014, and I have seen the evolution. The girls have won international medals for example at the 2016 SAG, we have silver medals and bronze and I feel there is so much more room to improve.”
Jabeen said that she enjoyed weightlifting herself when she was younger and she had been exposed to weightlifting because of her family and particularly her brother.
“I was not as regular, but I come from a family of weightlifters. My brother was also a weightlifter, so the exposure was there. Even in 2014, when we thought of starting women’s weightlifting and I was the Vice President, the challenges were there.
“They have always been the same, especially for women, because weightlifting has always been associated more with males. It is a more male-dominated field, so mostly the women who would come in, they already have been a part of families who have had weightlifters in them. So that was the first challenge, but now we have girls joining us who come from different backgrounds,” explained Jabeen.
She went on to add that weightlifting is a challenging sport for both men and women as they require international standard equipment and a balanced diet to begin with.
“I want to say that I am here for all athletes and having a career in weightlifting is not easy. I understand how hard it is. With athletes mostly doing everything on their own, the funds, the diets even that they require to train and get medals, so I am here to make sure that things improve,” said Jabeen.
More (women) the merrier
When more women enter the board rooms, the better it will get for female weightlifters, but Jabeen believes that she would like to use her powers justly as she has witnessed the evolution of weightlifting herself while being in the field.
“For women, even in my younger days, it was always about women being delicate and weightlifting being more of a men’s sport.
“But the truth is that weightlifting is more technical than that. It is about the technique with which we lift the weights and not just the strength,” said Jabeen.
Then she added that she saw a great battle won by Pakistani American weightlifter Kulsoom Abdullah, who represented the country while keeping her hijab on.
“Pardah (veil) has always been an issue. It is something we all struggled with. Religion and passion for sports do not have to clash and can be worked out harmoniously. Abdullah’s participation meant so much for everyone. It encouraged other girls to join the sport too. I feel there is so much more awareness now compared to how things were in the past,” said Jabeen.
She added that there are players that she knows personally who are married with children and have continued to pursue weightlifting.
“It is more about the determination, not just with weightlifting but anything. We have three to four women who are married, they have children and they came for weightlifting after giving birth too. So, this is the enthusiasm in women,” said a confident Jabeen, who believes the future holds better feats for weightlifters of Pakistan.
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