Baramulla’s supergirl Iqra Rasool who fought against all odds to pursue her dreams to play professional cricket shared her inspiring journey at Youth Ki Awaaz Summit on September 1 in Dr BR Ambedkar International Center in New Delhi. In her powerful address, ‘Why women can’t play cricket?’, Rasool inspired girls to break glass ceilings and chase their dreams.
Eighteen-year-old Iqra Rasool is an Indian women cricketer who represented Jammu and Kashmir at the U-19 and U-23 level. She is currently gearing up to represent Bengal and is being trained at Kolkata’s Eden Garden’s indoor facility. She hopes to receive No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association and play for the national women’s cricket team.
While speaking about her journey, Iqra shared how hard it was for her to fight patriarchy and break glass ceilings that restrict women from chasing their dreams.
“It’s challenging for girls, especially in Kashmir, to chase their dreams of becoming a sportsperson, dancer, or anything that the society doesn’t approve of. I was also so conditioned by the restrictive approach of the society that when my games teacher told me that I should play cricket, I laughed it off,” Iqra shared with the audience.
After much convincing from her games teacher, Iqra started training for the district level team. Despite facing opposition from the society and family, Iqra was unmoved and focused on becoming a professional cricketer.
“I wanted to bat, but my coach said that because of my height I’d be a good bowler. In two weeks he trained me for the upcoming match. I used to skip breakfast and lunch for the training sessions. My performance was really appreciated, and later on, I got selected by (JKCA) for under-19 team at the age of 13. Then next year I was selected for the under-23 team,” revealed Iqra.
When in 2016, an Army official called Iqra to prove herself by bowling an over to men’s cricket team she had many conflicting thoughts about it but her dream to play for Indian cricket team made her overcome all apprehensions.
“Playing with boys and among boys is something that Kashmiri girls can’t even think of. But, I had to prove myself, and I went for it. My first few deliveries were bad, and I got very nervous. Later, umpire pushed me to concentrate only on my bowling and not think of anything else. Then I clean-bowled a national-level under-23 batsman,” Iqra proudly recalls.
“Soon I got a contract from Aditya group where they offered to provide me free training, education, and stay. It was hard to convince my parents initially, but they agreed,” she added.
Iqra says that she is striving to make it to the women’s national cricket team and will not stop until that happens.
“I’m thankful to everyone who has supported me. Although I don’t have hard feelings for those who have criticised me or abused me, I will prove them wrong by becoming a national level cricketer,” she said.
Iqra ended her talk on a high note asking parents to let their children, boys and girls, to chase their dreams.