23-year-old Irtiqa Ayoub Become the Pride of Kashmir by Playing ‘Boys Sports’’
No matter how good girls are doing worldwide, gender stereotypes are still not disappearing. So no wonder, when a 23-year-old Irtiqa Ayoub decides to play Rugby she did face resistance as it was a rough ‘boy’s sports’. In her words: “My parents were very reluctant at first and didn’t support my passion, but winning few medals at state and district level did change their mind”. The young girl has been playing Rugby at an age of 16 and today become a senior player and Rugby Development Officer in the valley where this sport was non-existent some time back.
Her Journey of Hard Work & Resilience
Being an introvert child at school, Irtiqa found her solace in various sports. “Name it any sport, Football, Kho-Kho, Badminton, Volleyball, Cricket, or any other, I have mastered all” the girl claims. But her journey with the Rugby sport wasn’t chosen by the girl. It started when one teacher encouraged her to try and play this sport. Being very hesitant at the start, the girl soon found her passion in the sport and never looked back since then.
“When I started I didn’t even know how the ball looks like, but I stayed, learned and conquered”….
Soon I found my passion in this rough contact sport and participated in various National, & State levels and performed well. With time the medals and recognition started coming in and she becomes the known face for the locals. No matter how good she was, the idea of her playing sports didn’t go well with the family. To this the determined Irtiqa says, its the idea that persists in the place and lot of valley girls have to fight and work hard to achieve their goals. Her passion and love for Rugby is so immense that nothing stops her not even her broken nose, which she injured while playing the brutal sport.
From winning the Silver Medal for Rugby 7s in 2016 & 2017 to getting the Gold Medal for playing Snow Rugby in 2017, her achievements are highlighted in the National and Local media. Recently the achiever is facilitated with the ‘Eminence Awards’: honor dedicated to young achievers in the Kashmir valley.
Message To The Young Girls & Society
Irtiqa hopes the young girls in Kashmir take up the sport of their choice and work hard towards it. In an interview to SheThePeople, she says “There is a lot of young talent in the valley. We Kashmiris are really good in all sports, what we need is the support of our family and the Government”. She further adds “I have been giving training to the young girls in the state for the past one year and the talent that exists in the schools and colleges is immense”. I try to inspire the girls to take up the Rugby activities and to my surprise, they are already inspired”. Narrating her own journey, she says “If one introvert girl can do this, anybody can achieve it”. With the support and encouragement of the society, family, and Government, the girls of the valley will go very far.