In the Midst of a Warzone there’s an Afghani Skateboarding School for Girls

Today I learned there’s a skateboarding school in Afghanistan where 40% of its students are female.
In a part of the world where little girls are getting shot at for promoting women’s education, that’s a pretty impressive statistic. In a part of the world where little girls aren’t even allowed to ride a bicycle, that’s a ground-breaking statistic.
Officially, this makes Afghanistan the unlikeliest of title holders for the highest rate of female participation in skateboarding out of any country in the world.
Image by Jake Simkin
War, Taliban, violations of human rights: unfortunately these are the things most associated with Afghanistan today. And yet in a society that has no place for them, 70% of the population of this country is made up of children.
Enter Australian skater Oliver Percovich, who first visited Afghanistan in 2007 with three skateboards in tow. It didn’t take long before he was surrounded by children eager to learn how to skate and his mission became clear. Since then, Olly has permanently relocated to Kabul and dedicated his life with his team to creating Skateistan, a non-profit NGO and full-functioning school where children can not only come to learn in a brand new skatepark facility, but in classrooms where they can choose to explore anything from creative arts to environmental health topics.
Regrettably, there are evident obstacles to teaching girls in a country such as Afghanistan but this NGO has worked closely with the local community and government to gain their full consent and support. It turns out, Afghans largely consider skateboarding a suitable activity for girls, but to respect the local law, they are taught on separate days to boys at the skatepark, by an all-female staff. Skateistan also arranges transport for the girls to make it easier and safer for them to attend.
Image by Jake Simkin
This is a place where six days a week, children can be safe while learning in a supervised and secure private facility. Students include street children, refugees and youth with disabilities that benefit from the program’s special curriculum to provide sports therapy through skateboarding and various activities.
While skateboarding activities are kept off the streets of Kabul as much as possible, the reality of setting up a school in the midst of a warzone however is ever present and this past September, four children who were students, volunteers and youth leaders at Skateistan were tragically killed in a suicide attack while working in the street to support their families outside of school.
Oliver Percovich’s hope with Skateistan is to break the cycle of violence that the children are surrounded by in their hometown and give them the tools and passions they’ll need to change their future.
Since Skateistan was created in 2007, the charity has opened new schools in Pakistan and Cambodia and a second school in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan is set to open its doors imminently.
In 2009, a feature length documentary on Skateistan was filmed in Kabul, Afghanistan and was named winner of the 2011 Cinema for Peace Berlin award for Most Valuable Documentary. Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul is available to download on iTunes or online here.
Source: http://www.messynessychic.com/2012/11/27/in-the-midst-of-a-warzone-there-is-an-afghani-skateboarding-school-for-girls/

Pakistan women break new ground at kabaddi world cup


LAHORE: Sixteen young Pakistani women will make history this weekend as they compete in the kabaddi world cup -- the first time the Muslim country has ever fielded an international women's team in the sport.
The traditional tag-wrestling sport involves players trying to tag an opponent before making it back to their half of the field.
Kabaddi is hugely popular in the Punjab provinces of India and Pakistan, where it originates, and is played in countries around the world with South Asian populations.
It has traditionally been seen as a macho sport but now Pakistan is sending a women's team to the November 30-December 14 World Cup in India.
For 24-year-old Sayeda Fareeda Khanum, who comes from a conservative, religious family where she fought for years to be allowed to compete in sports, it is a dream come true.
"I have been sports crazy since childhood and was selected for national events in various sports many times, but I was never allowed by my family to attend a training camp outside college or university," she told AFP.
"But when I got selected for the kabaddi team, I told my mother that I would play this sport at any cost and left home to join the camp in Lahore."
Khanum, the team's best defender, spoke to AFP between sessions in a tough fitness workout at Lahore's Punjab stadium.
"Getting the national colours was my childhood dream. I am going to India to make a do-or-die battle for my nation and prove that Pakistani girls can do whatever women do in other countries," she said.
India and Pakistan, neighbours and ferocious sporting rivals, have met in two of the three men's world cup finals held so far, with India prevailing both times.
The women are determined to succeed where their male counterparts have failed.
"We decided to participate in this team for the sake of Pakistan, and for the sake of true patriotism. And we have tried our level best, and by the will of God we will succeed," vice-captain Sumera Zahoor, who comes from a martial arts background, told AFP.
Having decided to build the women's team, the authorities wrote to top sports organisations and educational institutions, collecting a group of girls coming from diverse sporting backgrounds.
Half already represent various other sports like athletics, weightlifting and racket games, while a few new players with the right attitude and ambitions have also earned a place in the team.
Training for the women in green, yellow and blue tracksuits begins with prayers and a recitation from the Koran.
After chants of "Long live Pakistan" and "God is great", they begin physical training before moving on to wrestling techniques.
It has not been an easy task for the support staff to get the team together and direct their potential.
"All the girls come from different games, some are from athletics, some are weightlifters," Aisha Qazi, the team's coach, said.
"These are individual players' games but kabaddi is a team event, so there is a huge difference and it has taken me some time to teach them."
Qazi, herself a first-class cricketer and international baseball player, said they were thrilled to be the first women's team to represent Pakistan in international kabbadi.
Head coach Ghulam Abbas Butt said he was confident the women's team would live up to their promise.
"I hope the boys' team will win the World Cup this time and the girls would also not disappoint in their first appearance," he said.
"I have done this training with my heart, and they followed it the same way. These were new girls and they have done whatever I asked them to do. That's why I know that they will play well," he said.
The Pakistan women face England, Mexico and Denmark in their pool matches while arch rivals India play the United States, Kenya and New Zealand.
Source: http://www.brecorder.com/sports/other-sports/146670.html