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Chak De... Kashmir

Aakanksha Mohan Sharma talks to Saba Akhtar and Soliha Yousuf, the first girls from Kashmir to get selected by the International Rugby Board for IRB coaching and the refereeship course...

india Updated: Mar 24, 2009 19:47 IST
Aakanksha Mohan Sharma
Aakanksha Mohan Sharma
Hindustan Times

Both of them belong to a family full of daughters. Both have got sports in their heritage. Both of them have given enough reasons to their families to feel proud on just a mention of their names.

Saba Akhtar, 17 a student of std XI of Linton Hall school and Soliha Yousuf 18, a student of std XII of Green Valley School are the first girls from Kashmir to get selected by the International Rugby Board for IRB coaching and the refereeship course. This is for the first time that the International Rugby Board has taken such an initiative in India.

Mohd Iqbal, chairman of J&K Rugby Association said, “It is a moment of pride for all of us who have supported these girls. Rugby is comparatively a new game in Kashmir, but it is now becoming very popular by the day. There are a total of 200 girls registered with association this time.”

Shahzada, Soliha’s mother said, "Her father got killed in crossfiring when he went to read evening namaaz when she was just two and a half years old. She is raised by her maternal grandparents."

Her grandfather and grandmother also practise with her in their garden. "Soliha says I am a better player than her. I could make it to the international level if only I had started playing Rugby in my younger age," said Soliha’s grandmother with a big laugh.

"She is a good sports person like her father. She was a captain of her school cricket team also and played nationals in Volley ball and Snow Rugby. I really want her to become a professional in Rugby," said her grandfather Ghulam Mohd Bhat
Saba is also not less privileged of family support like Soliha.

Saba’s father Mohd Akhtar Rah is the biggest support and inspiration behind her success. "Parents never want their children to commit mistakes and being a sports person is not a mistake. She got gold in Rugby when she was in IX Std. She has played nationals in Volleyball, Kabaddi and Snow Rugby. Recently, she got the best student of the year award also. So, she has all the reasons to make me feel proud," said her father.

Both of them want to carry their studies with full concentration along with their passion. According to Soliha and Saba this course will bring a big change in their life.

"We are not feeling under pressure. We are confident of our skills and ready to learn new ones," said the duo.

"System is completely different from Kashmir here. We get to watch videos of game before going to the ground. Now, I have become sure that professional rugby is my destination," said Soliha over the phone from the camp.

Saba has two younger sisters who are also making waves in sports. The middle one has played two national and the youngest one is race champion.

Similarly, Soliha's only younger sister has played nationals in Cycle Polo and Baseball.