KARACHI: Pakistan’s top-ranked women’s squash player Sammar Anjum believes the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) needs to treat the men’s and women’s game equally, and the first step in achieving that is to hold at least the same number of events for both.
Currently, the number of women’s events taking place in the country is far less as compared to men’s and Anjum, while pointing out that the disparity in the men’s and women’s game, said: “There certainly is huge gap and we can’t ignore that. Not only are there more local events for men, they get to go to international events more as well which not only discourages the female players but also makes convincing them to pursue a career in the sport quite difficult.”
She also said that Pakistan is not lacking in talent, it’s just that there is nothing being done to unearth it. “There is no dearth of talent in Pakistan. I’ve been playing since I was 10 and I’ve seen more girls picking up squash now, but the opportunities available to them must be equal. Men and women events should be equal in number, the participation rate should be the same and only then you can gauge whether women can excel as much as men do.”
Anjum began her squash journey when she was only 10 years old, following her elder brother’s footsteps. She been since been an active player throughout and featured in the U13, U15, U17 and U19 discipline before making her mark as the top player in the country.
And she believes that families also have a very important role in encouraging women to take up the sport. “In Pakistan, it is crucial for families to support girls if they choose to play a sport. My motivation came from my family and also the love for squash grew when I saw girls from other countries playing the sport without any hesitation.”
The 2016 South Asian Games silver-medallist has represented Pakistan in India, Iran, Britain and Malaysia previously and hopes that more girls take squash seriously as the sport can also help them thrive.
Recently she also helped WAPDA in winning the team championship in Karachi and credited the win to her coach Nadia Aziz, who is the first woman from Pakistan to take up squash as a full-time sport.
Aziz, while recalling her journey, revealed: “I used to be a badminton player and then the PSF officials came to our games and they introduced us to squash,” said Aziz. “I was instantly comfortable with it. I went on to play till 2004, won numerous national championships and then my department encouraged me to take up the job of a coach. It is hard to be the only female squash coach though.”
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