Meet Irtiqa Ayoub – The Emerging Rugby Star of Kashmir
Srinagar : 21 year old young Irtiqa Ayoub, hails from Waniyar Safakadal in Downtown Srinagar , is an undergraduate student at Government Degree College for Women Nawakadal in Srinagar, has been associated with the rugby game since 2011, with the experience of around seven years so far.
Irtiqa along with some other girls of the Jammu and Kashmir State, has qualified level-1 in rugby, a category of beginners, and was selected as RDO ( Rugby development Officer) in her own state by “International Rugby Board.”
Other than Rugby Development Officer, Irtiqa is currently working as an assistant coach of J&K RUGBY , and is among the voluminous group of female rugby enthusiasts who are learning and take up rugby on professional lines in the Kashmir valley.
Earlier, Irtiqa was selected for the india camp fairer gender to represent India.
While talking to Kashmir Age , She explains why the sport is all the rage among the valley’s girls.
“I was playing ‘girly’ games like kho-kho and vish-amrit and then i picked up football in 2009. I was finally introduced to rugby in 2011 at my school in Kothibagh. I started out as an underdog but became a star when i scored better than the professionals” Said Irtiqa Ayoub, adding that Cricket is lousy compared to rugby as it is a new-age game curiosity and high blood rush attract girls to the sport.
Accordjng to Irtiqa , Rugby to her means everything, but getting into it was not an easy affair.
Soon after Irtiqa was introduced to Rugby, Her neighbours went to her father, who works with the Direction school board of education, objecting her playing a sport that could cause physical harm and even bring “disrepute”. But Irtiqa never loose hope and kept on playing rugby.
“My parents initially did not like it. But the more i played and came out with flying colours , the more support they provided,” Irtiqa said.
“My grandfather was perceived to be very strict but then he believed in me and let me go into a field where bones can be broken and that for girls is something which is an alien concept,” Irtiqa added.
Young Irtiqa who wants to make a career as a rugby player rather than a coach says that she will continue to impart what she has learnt so far.
“I see charged up girls at the training camps in large numbers and that is when i really feel that i should train them. But playing and making a career out of the sport is not something which cannot be achieved,”she said.
She believes that the parents play an important role in the lines of girls in the valley and they should shed all inhibitions like her parents did when she started playing the game.
“On my first day, I was surprised to see young girls from remote parts of valley, attending the training camps. Even school girls brave all odds and come for trainings. The game no longer belong to men only,” Said irtiqa.
“This mentality was the first blockade, But rugby is in my blood. It is an addiction i cannot do without. In fact, I will marry someone who won’t ask me to stop playing the sport ,” Irtiqa laminated,
Whose performance was appreciable at the events in Gujarat, Mumbai ,Bihar,and many other states of India.
Irtiqa, who is determined to pursue a sports career in rugby , has won gold and silver medals in National rugby events and has made Kashmir proud.
That is the reason that Rugby is an integral part of her life now.
Every sunday, she leaves home early to train the young rugby players of the state.
Rugby as a sport doesn’t have any training programme at the national institute of sports ( NIS) but here in the valley , Minister for Youth Services and Sports Imran Raza Ansari and Secretary Youth Services and Sports Waheed Ul Reham Para has corded sanction to the construction of a separate ground for game with all the facilities.
Irtiqa who wants all the work to be completed as soon as possible reveals that the girls need to prepare for the upcoming national events and that the game cannot risk losing players for want of infrastructure and other facilities.
“The football association doesn’t let us play on their ground and we have been facing this issue but then the passion for the game in young girls drives us to new grounds to practice and learn. The government needs to do more till at least the basic facilities are made available ,” Said Irtiqa.