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Kashmiri schoolgirls 'Bend It Like Beckham'

M I Jehangir , PTI   Srinagar, May 15, 2008
First Published: 13:35 IST(15/5/2008) | Last Updated: 14:14 IST(15/5/2008)

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Sania Mirza, young girls from conservative Kashmiri society have begun breaking into male bastions even if it means taking to the rough-and-tumble of football.


Dressed in T-shirts and trackpants and some in hijab (veil worn by Muslim women), a bunch of them can be seen dribbling away with gusto at a football.
The group of 45 schoolgirls are undergoing coaching at a camp organised by the Department of Youth Services and Sports during which a team for Srinagar district will be selected.

The team will play in the under-19 girls football tournament to be held at Kargil in June and the next step will be the national level under-19 championships.

The trainers say they are a bit "raw" considering women's football is new in Jammu and Kashmir, but their "eagerness to learn" compensates for the shortcomings.

"My brother is a football buff who eagerly watches European league soccer on television. Gradually, I became interested in the sport and when the opportunity came my way, I grabbed it," Ruqaiya, a Class IX student of Government Girls' Higher Secondary School at Khanyar, told PTI.

Asked if she knew any big names from the footballing world, Ruqaiya admitted, "I have not paid any attention to the names as I was more engrossed in the game. It is just so absorbing."

Sabiya, a schoolmate of hers who has also made it to the coaching-cum-selection camp, said although Sania Mirza is a tennis player, her success had prompted her to take up sports as a career.

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