KARACHI, June 22: When young Zainab Imran puts on her running shoes on June 28, she will be doing it for her country and her people. The 16-year-old Karachi girl, a student of Nasra Trust School, Malir, will be carrying the Olympic torch as it makes its way to London.
Zainab, who has only recently done her Matric, is one of 21 people selected as torch-bearers from Azerbaijan, Brazil, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Palau, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Zambia through the International Inspiration programme.
The programme looks to use the power of sport to enrich the lives of tens of millions of children, young people and grown-ups, too, of all abilities in schools and communities across the world, particularly in developing countries, by offering them the opportunity to access and participate in high-quality and inclusive sport, physical education and play.
“There are young as well as older people [who have been] selected as torch-bearers through the programme and I’m the only one from Pakistan,” teenaged Zainab, who will be flying off to Nottingham on Sunday, excitedly told Dawn. “The oldest person selected as torch-bearer through the programme is a 53-year-old,” she added.
Each International Inspiration torch-bearer was selected either for their dedication and commitment to inspire children and young people in their communities through the power of sport or for the personal challenges they have overcome in their lives.
Zainab, who was nominated by the Nasra Trust School after she demonstrated strong leadership qualities, is also a member of the Young Leader of International Inspiration Club. She has taken Young Sport Leadership training and is also very active to cascade this training in her local community.
The spirited all-rounder enjoys playing netball for her school team. She has also done volunteer work as coordinator for the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), she said. “Then I regularly take part in Dawn’s Spelling Bee competitions, although I’ve yet to win it,” she chuckled. “But I got a position in the Pak-Turk Math Olympiad. I was 20th,” she said with pride.
About her selection, the young leader informed that she had to go through an entire process. “My school, as you may know, is one of British Council’s partner schools also taking part in the International Inspiration programme. So we, the students of Nasra Trust School, were given questionnaires to fill out. From there I was shortlisted for interviews, and I guess my interview must have gone pretty well because I got selected,” she remarked. The school partnerships are managed by the British Council, which has extensive experience of linking schools internationally, working in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, which utilises its expertise in developing teachers and young leaders through sport.
Asked if she has trained well for the Olympic relay, Zainab laughed, saying: “Well, I think so. Although I am not as yet sure what distance and exact route I’ll be taking. That will be disclosed to me after I reach Nottingham.”
But what she is sure of is that she will be running in an area in Nottingham, which has a big Pakistani community, who will be cheering her all the way. She would be needing that, too, as she is travelling alone to the UK, and that, also, for the very first time.