1/29/13

Play On! Focused Pakistani Women's Cricket Team Disregards Threats.

BY: SHIREEN AHMED
The world is waiting for the top cricket athletes to compete in the ICC Women’s World Cup to be held in India. Eight of the best teams in the world are vying for the top spot. 
Due to recent threats from the angry, extremist right-wing, nationalist Shiv Sena party against the tournament and specifically the Pakistani squad, the athletes have been housed in Barabati Stadium in Cuttack.
The Pakistani players would have faced trouble while travelling from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack for the matches. So we have arranged for their accommodation on the Barabati Stadium premises,” said Odisha Cricket Association Secretary Asirbad Behera.
The tournament was to be held in Mumbai but after a careful assessment the ICC decided to change the venue for the qualifying matches.
The finals will still be held in Mumbai.
Although I applaud the International Council for trying to put the safety of players first, securing the facilities and letting the aggressors know that this will not be tolerated is crucial.
Sport will tolerate terrorism nor will it tolerate threats.
It must persevere.
These women do not have a political agenda. They are playing for sports and for pride. 
They have trained and worked hard. They have earned it.
And they deserve the chance to play in peace. 
Despite these events, the Pakistan Women’s team has maintained that their priority is securing a place in the finals. 
They will not be deterred by the potential of violence. 
These women are stronger than that.
And there are many out there, including dedicated fans in India, who are supporting them and are very excited for this tournament. Politics has no place on the cricket pitch and this does not reflect well on India as a very gracious host nation.
Sana Mir, a formidable player and Team Pakistan’s skipper recently commented: We are not here to be in a five-star arrangement. We are here to play and we are quite comfortable.” 
Her dedication and professionalism proceeds her. 
We are here to play cricket, we feel Barabati Stadium like any ground in Pakistan
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Picture: Pakistani Women's Cricket Team
To be a female athlete and be concerned about safety can be limiting and intimidating. 
These players will do their utmost to ensure a victory and make their country proud despite the lack of support from a minority voice.
I, for one, am already blown by the generosity and professionalism of a team that clarifies that they are there to win. Nothing else.
Pakistan Team manager, Ayesha Ashar: “The arrangements are more like we get in Pakistan. We are happy with the facilities provided to us by the organisers”.
That, my friends, commands respect. 
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Picture: Sana Mir

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