Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in collaboration with UN Women, UNICEF, and Roots Millennium Schools organised a cricket workshop at Pakistan Sweet Homes sports ground
The International Day of the Girl Child initiated by UN is an annual event celebrated worldwide. The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl child is "Girls’ Progress: Progress on what Counts for Girls."
To create awareness about the significance of this day, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in collaboration with UN Women, UNICEF, and Roots Millennium Schools organised a cricket workshop at Pakistan Sweet Homes sports ground.
Four schools competed in the event: Roots Millennium, Mashall Model School, a charity school, Pakistan Sweet Homes, an orphanage, and Islamabad Special Education School for girls with hearing impairment. Girls between 10 and 14 years took part in the event.
The venue was very nicely decorated with banners, highlighting the significance of the day. PCB provided all the technical support. The sport equipment was donated by Malik Sport and Grays of Cambridge. Roots Millennium provided administrative support and refreshments were arranged through the courtesy of UN Women and UNICEF.
The cricket festival included three days of a coaching programme followed by a competition day. The coaching programme for each school utilised two female first-class players from Islamabad region, supervised by Furrukh Hayat, a PCB qualified coach.
Here one needs to compliment the wholehearted support of ladies from the diplomatic community, including American Embassy, British High Commission, Canadian High Commission, Swedish Embassy, and Portuguese Embassy. A good number of them turned up to cheer the teams and some worked as volunteers with the administrative team.
Henriette, Communications & Advocacy Officer at UN WOMEN, Islamabad, served as the coordinator.
A special feature of the event was participation of eighteen females from the diplomatic community, as guest players, divided among the four teams.
The organisers arranged special coaching session for them, just to give them an idea of the basic techniques of the game.
The event provided a very good opportunity for cultural integration of girls from disadvantaged schools with a private elite school, so important for creating a better understanding among different segments of society. The competition had exciting moments, and it was heartening to see young girls jumping with joy when they did well. Team hugs and victory celebrations added colour to the event.
Surprisingly, girls with hearing impairment also cheered their team and expressed joy with the sign language.
The final was a ten-over match between Islamabad Special Education School and Mashall Model School. It was keenly contested, and had exciting moments. A superb all-round performance by Sakina helped Mashall Model school clinch the title.
Following is how some of the players expressed their feelings:
Misha Farooq -- Student of Roots Millennium: "It was the best experience of my life as it gave me a boost in my daily activities whether in class or outside. I started believing that we are the strongest beings and if we want to achieve our goals, we can do so. After this tournament now I truly believe in "Strong Girl, Strong World".
Roshnaq Usman -- Student of Roots Millennium: "It was a life-changing experience. I learnt that we should always be thankful for the blessings we have and this has motivated me more towards my goals in life."
Maham Shebaz -- Student of Islamabad Special Education School, a hearing-impaired child: "Co-curricular and sports activities are necessary for health of students. Sports make us perform well in academics."
Anila Atta -- Student of Islamabad Special Education School, a hearing-impaired child: "Such events should be held regularly. Sports activities are good for our physical as well as mental health. These contribute to a positive change in our behaviour."
Zainab -- Student of Mashal Model School: "I wanted to play cricket but my family didn’t allow me because I’m a girl. Although I’m weak, I’m a good cricketer. I felt many changes in my behaviour, I felt much more confident, disciplined and learnt how to control my anger. I want to tell every girl that sports is most important, because we become strong and successful. It should be in our schools side by side with our studies. I want to become a good cricketer as well as software engineer."
Rimsha -- Student of Mashal Model School: "Sports change our thinking pattern. Playing cricket made me very confident. My class fellows give me more respect now."
Haleema -- Student of Mashal Model School: "I love cricket. I want to become a doctor, but I also want to become a good player of cricket. Girls can do everything; they are very strong."
Mariam Islam -- Student of Pakistan Sweet Homes: "It was a good day when we had so much fun".
Nadia -- Student of Pakistan Sweet Homes: "Cricket is not just for boys. We saw that today."
Narmeen -- Student of Pakistan Sweet Homes: "I want to play more cricket, including in our school."
Hopefully with the cooperation of all stakeholders, we can make this cricket event an annual affair. This will not only create better awareness of the rights of girls in Pakistan, but also provide much-needed recreational activities for school girls.