A Female Boxing Club In Lyari, Pakistan... Empowering Girls Through Sports
Pakistan has produced some outstanding sports personalities over the last few decades... but most of them are Men, why? It is a country with some outstanding women authors, politicians, singers, media personalities... then why just a few prominent sports women? Mainly due to restricted resources and social clichés.
There are very few female training camps and gyms for female athletes in the country. These are mostly located in the bigger cities and are generally quite expensive. Last month a NY times article on a girls boxing facility in Lyari, Karachi caught my attention. Sanam Maher"s article explains the vision behind the first boxing training camp in Lyari.
They are part of the first-ever official training program in Pakistan to teach women how to box. The First Women Boxing Coaching Camp has been organized by the Sindh Boxing Association (SBA) in Lyari, Karachi, a neighborhood known for two things: gang violence and sports stars, particularly footballers and boxers, including Olympian Syed Hussain Shah.
It all started when a 16-year-old girl, Khadijah, approached the 2013 Sindh boxing champion and resident of Lyari, Nadir Kachi, and asked him to train her. She wanted to learn to box, but couldn’t find any club willing to teach her. All the girls she knew used to watch videos of matches or training sessions and practice in their homes. They had no way of competing, as no inter-club, district, provincial, or national-level boxing fights are held for women in Pakistan.
Nadir took Khadijah to his coach, Younis Qambrani. “I have been training my daughters to box since they could put on a pair of gloves,” explained Qambrani, whose family includes several gold medalists in the sport. Qambrani started including Khadijah in those training sessions. A few days later, another girl showed up asking for training, having heard of Khadijah’s sessions. Word spread and before he knew it, Qambrani had 13 girls in his home, all wanting to become boxers. At that point, the coach knew he had to find a space and an official program for them."
Sanam Maher and her husband Mustafa Abbasi along with the club officials are raising awareness for this initiative. When I contacted them they informed that the idea for a female boxing club will be a pass time for local girls as well as giving confidence to the girls.
"The club started out with 17 girls who wanted to learn how to box and who are from families that have a background in sports, so they were naturally inclined to be interested in the game."
"The Sindh Boxing Association received some seed money from the government for the 10-day training camp - Rs150,000. The organisers are still lobbying for further government support and funds."
When I asked them what is their vision for future, they replied
"To train the girls to compete at national- and eventually international-levels. The girls have to start out competing at inter-club level (there is a sister club set up in North Karachi, so girls from these two clubs can fight each other), before moving on to district levels and so on. The coach also wants to train some of the girls to be referees and umpires or coaches so other girls and women may have access to the sport."
Look out for future international female boxing champions from Pakistan. Any amount of donation and a great deal of appreciation is needed for this project.