Former national hockey player Shahida Raza was among the Pakistanis who lost their lives after a wooden sailing boat carrying migrants crashed against rocks on the southern Italian coast over the weekend, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported on Wednesday.
The vessel had set sail from Turkiye several days ago with migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and several other countries, and crashed in stormy weather near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria, with bodies, shoes, and debris washing up along a long stretch of shoreline.
A senior official at the Pakistani embassy in Italy had met 16 Pakistani survivors of the capsised vessel on Monday while four were missing.
The Foreign Office on Tuesday had confirmed that two Pakistanis had lost their lives, one more was found alive while the status of the fourth was unaccounted for.
The same day, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) issued a statement saying its senior officials had extended their condolences to Raza’s family, adding that she had “died in an accident”.
APP reported today that Raza was “among the 60 individuals killed in an immigration boat tragedy in Italy a few days ago”. “Four Pakistanis are said to have died in the said boat collision,” it added.
Raza previously played for Pakistan in 2012’s Asian Hockey Federation Cup in which she was regarded as the team’s linchpin. Nicknamed “Chintoo” by her teammates, she was bursting with energy in every match.
Born and bred in the mountains of Quetta, her stamina and skills were second to none.
“I am not tired, I can play another tournament starting now!” she had repeated more than once at the dugout after the match against Singapore. One of her complaints was a lack of exposure.
“There isn’t much left to do now, once we go home we will be based in our respective cities for many months and other than running around, would have no hockey practice. We need an academy, a series of national and international tournaments; trust in us and we will deliver,” promised Chintoo.
Raza was also part of the 18-member junior girl’s squad for 2009’s Asian Hockey Federation U-18 Girl’s Cup.
She also played at the domestic level and competed in the PHF U-21 Girls Hockey Championship.
CM Bizenjo pays tribute
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo expressed his “deep grief” over Raza’s demise in the accident.
The chief minister in his condolence message issued earlier today said he was “deeply saddened” by her death and those of other citizens holding Pakistani nationality in the boat tragedy.
Paying homage to the late hockey player, he said: “The deceased brought light to the name of the province and the country in the field of hockey.”
He also expressed sympathies with the bereaved family and prayed for them and those who died.
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