After enduring several restrictions and roadblocks, girls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat finally played the “first-ever” women’s cricket match in the Kabal tehsil on Tuesday.
Women cricketers from Kabal and Mingora tehsils participated in the match, which was played in the ground of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School Kabal.
During the 10-over thrilling contest, the Mingora women’s cricket team emerged as winners after beating Kabal by seven runs.
The game was attended by a large audience, which included female spectators, Babuzi Assistant Commissioner (AC) Luqman Khan, Kabal AC Junaid Khan, organiser and taekwondo champion Ayesha Ayaz, coach Ayaz Naik and others.
After the match, trophies, certificates and cash prizes were distributed among the players.
Speaking to Dawn.com, the women cricketers expressed their happiness and recalled how they had been barred from playing the sport.
Over the weekend, several clerics and a group of elders in the Charbagh tehsil had prevented the girls from playing cricket. They had called women’s participation in sports “immoral”.
After outcry from players and locals, Swat Deputy Commissioner Dr Qasim Ali Khan had instructed officials to find a “suitable location” for the match.
Sapna, one of the players, said: “I can’t find the words to describe how disheartened we felt when certain individuals prevented us from playing in Charbagh. It made us question whether we were not considered human beings and whether we had no rights.”
She said that she and her friends had been restless after that incident.
“But today, I am overjoyed that we were given the opportunity to play in front of a large audience and we emerged victorious,” she added.
Ayesha Ayaz, a 13-year-old budding taekwondo player who has secured two gold medals and one silver medal for Pakistan, stressed that the women of Swat possessed “remarkable talent” across various domains, including sports.
She advocated encouraging female participation in sports activities, asserting that they should not face obstacles but be granted opportunities to showcase their abilities and contribute to the nation’s prestige.
Naik, one of the match’s organisers, also expressed his gratitude to the district administration and organisers, hoping that they would continue promoting sports in the same way.
“This marks the initial step towards independent women’s sports activities, and we are committed to taking further substantial measures to offer increased opportunities to female players,” he said.