Stone-pelting Kashmiri girl now captain of J&K football team

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Afshan Ashiq’s past year viral as an angry Kashmiri girl pelting stones at the J&K police came into the national media news more because it was witnessed that she was an enthusiastic footballer. However, Afshan says now that picture not only changed her sporting career but also helped introduce many young Kashmiri girls, which was dominated majorly by males.

That picture got her “noticed” as the “Kashmiri footballer forced to vent her ire by pelting stones”. Later, the meetings with J&K chief minister’s Mehbooba Mufti followed, who decided to do her efforts to promote both Afshan and women’s football in J&K. Ashiq is now captain and goalkeeper of the J&K women’s football team, which is being promoted at the national level and competing in the Indian Women’s League. Afshan along with her 22-member football team, coach Satpal Singh Kala and manager Tsering Angmo on Tuesday called on Union home minister Rajnath Singh. She told Times of India that she asked the home minister’s intervention to start a Sports Authority of India (SAI) Institute in Kashmir to encourage and teach young girls to play football.

Afshan told TOI that “I was impressed by how patiently a Union minister heard the issues raised by us. We sought better sports infrastructure in J&K. The home minister called up J&K CM in front of us and told her to meet us when we get back to Srinagar”. The J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti said that she was already supporting them in a big way and had also directed the sports secretary to take care of the requirements of the women’s football team. “While I have joined a Mumbai football club to pursue my dream to be a national-level player, it is my honour to also captain the J&K women’s football team,” added Afshan.

When asked if she regrets the stone-pelting incident, Afshan said that it was a never-to-be-repeated reaction triggered by her “anger” at the abusive language used by a J&K police as well as the alleged “slapping” of a team member she was accompanying to the football ground at the time. “I don’t regret anything. I would not have picked up a stone had it not been for the misbehavior of the police. But now I have a reputation and image to maintain. I want to focus on football and make my state and nation proud,” Afshan added.

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