Pakistan is planning to kick-start women’s wrestling as the Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF) secretary confirms that they have decided to have organise national level competitions and ultimately send the talent to the international competitions.
In the last 68-years since the PWF has been formed, Pakistan have seen many legendary wrestlers, but they have all been men, and there is seldom a story about women’s wrestling, or even a start to the practice.
“Women's wrestling will officially begin soon and we are making sure that it starts before the end of this year,” the PWF secretary Muhammad Arshad Sattar told The Express Tribune. “We have been thinking about having women’s wrestling on the national level, but it needs to start from the grass-roots and that is the plan. We will have a good beginning before the end of this year.”
Pakistan is one of the few countries in the region that do not have women’s wrestling with a proper pathway which can lead the talent to compete at the Olympics, or Asian Games or even the United World Wrestling events.
Taking the example from the neighbours India, where a generation of talented young women have made a mark in world wrestling for their country, Pakistan is yet to see any development in this regard.
While there are wrestlers like Muhammad Inam and others, who have been competing for Pakistan for more than a decade and winning the medals, the big question has always been why all the winners are men?
“We will also have good women wrestlers like India has. It is just a matter of time. We have made sure that we have at least 20 per cent of the women’s representation in our PWF council as well.
“We decided in the council last month that we need this to start. We are in the process of introducing wrestling for the women athletes. It is an absolute necessity now, because everyone in the world has women participation. It is the need of the time. We can’t even hold any legitimate meeting in the general council without women representatives, and this will translate into the game as well,” said Sattar.
He added that the women’s wrestling events and programs would have been in motion had there been normal circumstances.
“If this Covid-19 pandemic had not happened and there had been no restriction on full-body contact sports by the government of Pakistan, then we would have been seeing women wrestling events on local and national level right now,” said Sattar.
He added that the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has not cooperated with the sports bodies and has not held any national camps as well. Sattar said this has been detrimental for the careers of the wrestlers.
He said that for women wrestling, the plan is to start with inter-varsity competitions and work with the Higher Education Commission, which is setting up academies to groom the youth.
“We will have an academy in Lahore in a university for starters. This will help in identifying the talent and also groom it. The academies are a great way of starting this program,” said Sattar.
He explained that there have been cultural and religious reasons behind women wrestling to start after more than half a century in Pakistan.
“There is a cultural aspect. We call our men who are wrestlers Pehalwan. I don’t know how comfortable women would be with that title,” said Sattar.
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