Women in sports receive much needed help

Women in sports receive much needed help. Sports is a badly deprived and under-promoted segment of social life in Pakistan. Despite there being plenty of skill and determination, few opportunities are accessible to individuals which results in low standards and performances. The outcome of this can be seen from Pakistan’s poor medal tally at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games where it collected a meagre 5 medals with only one gold, despite being one of the most populous nations taking part in the prestigious event. There is also no lack of talent in the country, only a lack of support and encouragement.

This is especially true of women in sport, who are often discouraged by the social and cultural environment and families from raising their level of ability and aiming for the top in their sporting discipline. But now, they have some hope. The Bilquis and Abdul Razak Dawood Foundation (BARD), a Not for Profit Organization (NPO) established in 2016, aims to change the situation for youth engaged in sport and other activities, ensuring they are not held back by creating an environment which provides opportunity to realize potential and dreams. In 2016, The BARD Foundation launched the book ‘Women in Green and Beyond’, which documented six years in the life of Pakistan’s women’s cricket team and the perseverance and pride with which the young women have pursued their passion for cricket. The book has already inspired other young women to take up cricket.

BARD has also assisted young people, especially women, seeking higher education but lacking the means to attain their dreams. Handing over the possibility of achieving dreams to youth is of course extremely important to the growth of any nation and development within it, especially when so much social and economic disparity exists. In addition, it promotes the imparting of vocational skills which can help expand skills. The Foundation extends support to anyone who has the ‘desire to reach for the sky’. Recently, after being approached by the family, BARD offered support to young swimmer Mishael Aisha Ayub, 16, to train in Spain over the summer and improve on her abilities. Mishael is already one of Pakistan’s most promising young female swimmers and holds national records, notably in her favourite butterfly stroke events. She was also declared the best Under 16 Swimmer in Pakistan in 2017 and in the future, aims to break other national records, achieve medals at the upcoming South Asian Games in 2019 and continue to give her best for her country.


Mishael herself hopes her period of training in Spain, sponsored by BARD, even if two weeks in duration, will help identify her technical weaknesses and allow her to work on them for the future. Underwater cameras and other aids available at swimming facilities overseas permit strokes to be visualized under the water and relevant corrections made to enhance speed. Mishael’s coach will continue to support the findings at home.

There are many other young sportsmen and women of similar ability scattered across the country. Mishael herself believes a lack of support for them holds them back and that they need more encouragement from the government. BARD plans to be the ‘catalyst for upward social mobility within the society it operates in.’ The work has already begun in this respect. Young people hold the key to the future. The Foundation has recognized this and begun playing its part in helping them reach the very top.

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