Eighteen years into twenty first century, Football is still considered a domain game for men in most parts of world, and Jammu and Kashmir being no exception. But as Lionel Messi, the inspirational footballer says, “You can overcome anything, if and only if you love something enough”, the new age of Kashmir has turned a page in the history of the valley and set great examples through their passion and determination for higher goals.
With continuous blooming opportunities and equal hardwork of our youth, we have seen inspiring examples like Afshan Ashiq, who was once a stone pelter is now the captain of women’s football team of J & K. She is proof of a change that is headed to a better tomorrow.
Defying the odds, Nadia Nighat has become the first women football coach from Jammu and Kashmir. She is a motivation for the generations to come and is recently in news for her achievement of being placed as a football coach Maharashtra.
But, the road to success for our champion was not always smooth as butter. Nadia began her journey as a young girl with dreams to make a career in football. As a child, Nadia’s interest in the game initiated as she watched boys in her neighbourhood play football with utter passion. She was not only scolded but also asked to quit playing the game by her parents.
But her interest had busted the fear of an unstable career in the hearts of her parents due to the existing stereotypes related to a woman playing the domain game of men. Nonetheless, her confidence and will power won over every barrier. She participated in a national football tournament in 2007 and has been unstoppable since then. Along with her studies, Nadia managed to join training sessions at a local college, namely Amar Singh College Academy. She later trained with Jammu and Kashmir Football Association (JKFA). The academy has a history of producing talented footballers and was also the turning point for Nadia’s life.
Finally after ten long years of struggle, Nadia at the age of 19, set up her own Football Academy at Rambagh area of the Srinagar district, where she used to train both boys and girls every evening. With 30 Nationals and State Level awards, Nadia enthusiastically ran her academy and trained more than 30 aspirants including three girls.
Nadia has not only brought a change in the mentality of people that male trainers are better than female trainers but she has also motivated other girls to participate more openly in the game. Jammu and Kashmir sports council are in awe of her, they say, “She is very talented and gives lessons on how to trickle and tackle the situations in the game.”
Today, with a ‘C’ license to teach football, Nadia is the head coach of the U-13 boys’ team of Thanes, Maharashtra. She also plan to coach U-15 and U-18 teams in the coming future.
An avid fan of footballers Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, Nadia has proved that people of Jammu and Kashmir might have seen the blues of past and currently existing stereotypes, but there is no denying the spirit and enthusiasm of our youth. In a respectable interview with ANI, Nadia has sent her message for the children of the valley, saying, “I appeal to everyone to follow their dreams and achieve their goals. Do not consider football a man’s game. Parents should allow their children, whatever they want to pursue in their career,”
We wish her lots of love and luck for the adventures to come. More Power to you Nadia Nighat!!