Kashmiri Girl Turns Stone Pelters Into Footballers
Qudsiya Altaf, a 23-year-old Kashmiri girl, gave up her dream of becoming a civil engineer and instead chose to become a football coach at Kashmir University.
She decided to enrol in the National Institute of Sports in Patiala after the skirmishes in Kashmir last year. Stone pelters and security forces had clashed after Indian forces killed Burhan Wani, a militant commander of the Hizbul in Kashmir. Over 200,000 people had gathered to mourn his death, and many youths protested against the Indian security forces.
She said that at least three dozen stone pelters had come to her in the initial days of the protest.
“My dream is to see that these boys represent India at international events. I want to wean them away from guns, stone pelting, drugs and smoking. There’s a bright chance for them to make their country proud,” Altaf tells TOI.
Altaf has been playing football since 2007, but could never represent India. The Kashmiri girl wants to take her football team to an international soccer event.
“They are all good and reformed people who come to me now. They want to do well for India,” she said, referring to the stone pelters.
After seeing her success, the sports council has identified 200 stone pelters and decided to teach them football on local playgrounds.
Altaf says that her father is very supportive of her endeavours. There are challenges that come with being a female football coach, but Altaf doesn’t allow them to affect her work. She remains unfazed by negative comments on her attire. She is being paid Rs 5,000 a month for her job at the J&L State Sports Council.
Last year, 19-year-old Nadiya Nighat made headlines for becoming Kashmir’s first female football coach. She too received her father’s support and pursued her passion beyond the myriad challenges that came her way.
Picture Credit: Slumsoccer.Org