It started all too innocently as a netball game. But before long, abuses were hurled instead of the ball, following a catfight amongst opposing teams’ players. Chairs followed abuses, and male officials entered the arena to beat female players.
When the dust settled, one of the team faced possibility of a lifetime ban.
After the conclusion of the 10th National Women Netball Championship 2012 semi-final between Wapda and Pakistan Army on Wednesday, Wapda faces a possible lifetime ban and disqualification from the event – being held at the Lahore University of Management Sciences – when a brawl between players and officials ripped through the field.
Frustrations surfaced and tempers rose as Army managed a 5-0 lead over their opponents, prompting a fight in the first quarter of the match. Wapda’s centre-half Sehrish Nawaz began beating Army’s Ayesha Dilshad, who had just scored for her team a minute earlier.
While Nawaz started to abuse and hit Dilshad, other Wapda players joined the ruckus, paving way for a mass catfight, which prompted the referee to suspend the match for 10 minutes.
After normalcy returned on the field, both teams resumed play but peace lasted only till Nawaz attacked Dilshad again in the second quarter with Army leading 7-3.
This time, however, things got uglier as Wapda’s officials also stepped onto the field to tackle the Army women.
According to one of the Army players, who refused to be named, Wapda’s male officials also started beating the girls, which went on for at least 10 minutes.
“It was just so ugly, I got slapped by a male official twice, and they just went wild,” an Army squad member said.
“It’s disturbing. I don’t think I can play again. They even used chairs to hit us.”
According to Army team manager Major Saleem Chaudhry, three of his players were left injured and may not be fit to play the final. He said that the girls in his team were “shaken up” before the final that will be played against Punjab.
Meanwhile, according to the Pakistan Netball Federation (PNF) secretary, the Rules and Technical Committee has recommended the executive body to hand a lifetime ban to the Wapda officials and players involved in the fight.
“Wapda coach Muhammad Tahir has been stopped from even stepping on the field anymore because he jumped into the fight and hit Army players without even considering that they are women. He crossed the limits and he will be punished for it,” said Secretary Arain.
Arain emphasised that Wapda’s conduct on the
field was “embarrassing” and had “tarnished” the name of the sport.
“We are responsible for the women in the event. Many of these girls have to fight their families to get permission to participate in this championship. The executive committee will ban the perpetrators for life or least for three-to-four years,” revealed Arain.
Meanwhile, in the second semi-final of the event, Punjab defeated HEC 16-15. They will now face Army in the final today.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2012.
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