National Cricket Team
Cricket has always received humongous amount of attention from every nook and corner of India. However, it has always been seen as a difficult sport for women to shine in. Even as children, boys playing cricket in the streets was normal whereas a girl playing cricket was a rare sight.
It has only been a while that participation of women in the sport has been given importance by players and sports committees. But as they say “Nothing worth having comes easy”, here is the magnificent journey of Jasia Akhtar, the first female cricketer of Jammu and Kashmir to visit India Camp, who was recently selected for the India ‘Red Team’ in the ongoing Women’s Challenge Trophy, and the only female cricketers from the valley to mark a spot in Indian Women’s National Cricket team.
Meet Jasia Akhtar
Jasia Akhtar hails from Shopian in Jammu & Kashmir. Her father, Gul Mohammed Wani, is a dedicated farmer and has small, beautiful farms of apples and walnuts. Akhtar mentioned in an interview that she has been playing cricket since childhood.
As time went by, her enthusiasm for the sport grew and she began to seek the support of the state to promote her talent. Unfortunately, at that time, Jammu and Kashmir’s cricket council had limited resources and intentions to promote a female cricketers, as a result, Jasia had to move to Punjab to continue pursuing a career in cricket.
Dreams and Tragedies
With eyes set on her goal of being “A Women in Blue”, Akhtar joined BBK DAV College for Women in Amritsar, Punjab in 2013 and from there she was selected by the Punjab Cricket Association as a batsman in the state team.
As time passed, Jasia became more competent in her sport and began marking victories for Punjab team in ODIs and T20s.
Her growth was tragically hindered by the drastic floods of Kashmir in 2014. The house that her father built over the years was ruined in the floods. To add to the misery, her aunt, whom she considered as a mentor, succumbed to the shocks of flood and died of a heart attack. Jasia was deeply taken aback by the incident. She was left with no choice but to stay back with her father and provide a helping hand in farming.
Her brother, Sohail Wani Ahmad, who wanted to join Indian Army gave her strength to focus on her career and convinced her to go back to Punjab.
Very first Moments of Limelight
After surpassing the odds and battling the problems at hand, a brave Akhtar returned to Punjab and her team welcomed her with open arms. She hit her first limelight in September 2017, during the T20 Queens XI Cricket League organised by the Sehwag Cricket Academy in Gurgaon, and scored an unbeaten 44 runs for LIC Chandigarh XI against Sri Lanka XI in the final match. She won the title of Queens XI Cricket League for her team.
The life changing selection in India CampOn a usual Sunday post her recent victory, Jasia was training with her team when the captain came and announced that she had been selected for the Indian senior women’s month-long camp at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. And just like that Jasia became the first ever female cricketer from the valley to make it to the national camp.
During an interview, Jasia shared that when Parvez Rasool was first selected for the Indian Team, he told her that it is now her turn to shine in blue. And now, she does!
The Woman In Blue
Recently, on 5 January 2019, Jasia Akhtar was selected for India Red team in the ongoing Women’s Challenger Trophy. She finally won the honourable title of being called a woman in blue and donning an Indian Jersey as she had always dreamt.
Jasia Akhtar is an inspiration to the valley and the voice of many girls and women who are scared to stand up for themselves. Jasia’s story has also motivated the Cricket council for women in Jammu and Kashmir to support the enthusiastic female youth of the valley and as a result they have realised the lacks in the system and is now proudly promoting the talented female cricketers in the valley.
JASIA AKHTAR, JAMMU AND KASHMIR IS PROUD OF YOU. WE HOPE TO SEE YOU MAKE A SPOT IN INDIAN TEAM SOON. Bleed Blue!