Sakina Akhter: A cricketer who turned her childhood passion into her career

From playing in congested lanes to making it to big stadiums -- Sakina Akhter had never thought of turning her childhood fantasy into a career.

Playing cricket would always enchant her. 

In her childhood -- the moment she would hear the sound of children playing cricket, she would come running down her home to take part in the game – in her Barbarshah locality of Srinagar.

She was the only girl -- who was a part boy’s cricket team of her area. 

As she grew the social set up began to shackle her dreams. “Roaming around with boys was considered to be a taboo then, with the result I had to stop playing.”

“We used to have a ground near our home and I would play cricket there along with other boys of the locality for hours together. We would also go to the Sri Pratap College for practicing,” Sakina reminiscences.

Being from a conservative background, she says, she would have never been allowed to play cricket that too with boys but her passion convinced all. 

“Seeing my spirit my parents never stopped me.” 

As she grew the social set up began to shackle her dreams. “Roaming around with boys was considered to be a taboo then, with the result I had to stop playing.”

Pressure from society made her quit the boy’s team but she didn’t stop thinking about it. “Cricket was my passion and I had come far ahead to stop doing it.”

When in school a cricket team was formed Sakina got an opportunity to realise her dream once again. “Joining school cricket team was like a dream come true.”

Once she got an entry into the team she participated in all competitions -- be it inter school, district and interstate matches.

Her three years of college she says were all about cricket. 

“In 1998 I got selected for my first national match. It was an under 19 match and our team was 1st runner up there.”

Her three years of college she says were all about cricket. 

“My graduation years at Women’s college M.A Road, Srinagar, were spent on play ground only. Cricket was everything for me.” 

Life isn’t all about cricket she began to feel -- soon after her graduation.

“It was the time to think about my future so I shelved cricket for some time.”

In whatever she would do her family was by her side but now they also began to ask her to focus on her career. 

“Yes, they were right. Cricket is good for passion but for a better future I planned to appear in entrance examination of University of Kashmir.”

After qualifying her entrance examination, Sakina opted for Social sciences.

“Although I qualified the entrance but my heart was not into studying.”

When she finished up her 1st semester she felt that it was not what she was meant to do, so she decided to go for diploma in major games at National Institute of Sports (NIS), Delhi. 

“I convinced my family, who have always been supportive, and they gave me a nod to go”.

At NIS, Sakina was one of the two girls who made it to the final selection list. 

“I was fortunate enough to get selected in NIS. I was the only girl from Kashmir besides another from Delhi, rest were all boys and that too Ranji players.”

One year of rigorous training and she returned home – carrying along a new hope to build her future. 

After coming back she applied for a post of a coach in Sports counsel Kashmir -- where she worked for 9 months.

“In that period I arranged many camps, my first camp was at polo ground, Srinagar with 250 boys from reputed schools of valley.”

Not fully content with the kind of the job she was doing, Sakina applied at other places as well.

“Satisfaction came when I got a contractual order, in 2007, to work as a cricket coach for Kashmir University.”

The order later turned into permanent one and right now Sakina trains both girls and boys of Kashmir University cricket team. Besides this she also coaches state’s senior team. 

Wishing to coach anywhere in India Sakina has planned out her future. 

“To get a certification of coaching anywhere I have already qualified the level one of exams of Board of Cricket Council of India.”

There are two more levels to go which she couldn’t complete because of the problems in Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA).

“JKCA was without a General Secretary for long and there were other problems in the association as well due to which I couldn’t go for other exams.”

Sakina dreams of representing Jammu and Kashmir cricket teams in the world and believes that there is nothing which can stop people from chasing their dreams provided they have the driving force called passion in them.