Balkh sportswomen have talent & courage -- but no facilities
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Girls are increasingly participating in a variety of sports in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, but the government has barely paid any attention to providing the required facilities for sportswomen.
Volleyball, basketball, football, cycling, ping-pong and taekwondo are some of the games attracting more and more girls, but there is not even a single stadium in the entire province to encourage women’s participation in sports.
A number of sportswomen say they have defy cultural taboos and social barriers to take part in sporting events. However, they regret, the government has not extended them a helping hand. Similarly, they take to great troubles convincing their families to let them play outdoor games.
Rukhsar, an 18-year-old cyclist, told Pajhwok Afghan News family had allowed her but she had to encounter a plethora of social problems. She points to the absence of a proper cycling route in the city, where young boys tease her on main roads. “It’s the biggest problem for me.”
She lashes out at the Cycling Federation for offering athletes no facilities. But the federation chief, Ahmad Faqir Quraishi, complains of a fundingshortage and hence their inability to provide facilities for cyclists. The federation can only register female cyclists.
Previously, the federation had raised a team of male cyclists. But with the help of the Public Health Department, the official explains, they have also constituted a team girls. He acknowledges the absence of a proper route and the purchase of cycles by the girls themselves.
Qurishi says at least 20 female cyclists, registered by the federation, are allowed twice a week to practice in the Public Health Department’s ground. The federation does not have its own facility.
Shamsia Mubarez, a member of the football squad for last two years and a half, grumbles they have no facility other than the Public Health Department’s ground. She is equally bitter over the lack of a stadium for sportswomen in the province.
The Balkh Football Federation head, Rokai, confirms the problems. Whatever progress has been achieved in promoting women’s soccer in the province is the upshot of players’ personnel determination and efforts. The federation has playedno significant role in this regard, he admits.
Of the 30 soccer players in the province, three are part of the national side. Rokai believes if the government invests in promoting women’s football here, Balkh will become a centre for sportswomen in the whole northern zone.
The Olympic Committee head for Balkh, Mohammad Ibrahim Osmani, also upholds the allegation that little has been done to promote women’s sports in the province, which has produced outstanding football, volleyball, table tennis, cycling, basketball and taekwondo players.
He lists lack of sports gear, grounds, gymnasia and other facilities as their main concern, saying the National Olympic Committee had been informed about the situation. But no concrete major stepshave been taken yet, he laments, saying they have no funds for the construction of a stadium,for which is available.
But Munir Farhad, the governor’s spokesman, is blissfully unaware of the problems being encountered by sportswomen. He, however, acknowledged the players’ sense of commitment and suggests the issue be shared with the central government.
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