Passion for Cricket Drives Pakistan Women Towards Umpiring
With women’s cricket on the rise in Pakistan, more and more females are getting drawn towards the game every day, which is also springing up their interest in taking the field as umpires.
In the Pakistan Cricket Board’s umpires’ panels, there are presently nine female umpires – belonging from both rural and urban centres of the country. They are at the forefront of the drive to ensure women representation on the cricket field continues to increase with the females taking the role of umpires.
Five of them – Afia Amin, Humaira Farah, Nazia Nazir, Sabahat Rasheed and Shakila Rafiq –were amongst the audiences during a workshop in Lahore, which concluded on Tuesday.
The remaining four umpires namely Nuzhat Sultana, Riffat Mustafa, Samera Aftab and Saleema Imtiaz, will attend workshops in Karachi and Rawalpindi from 29-31 August and 3-5 September, respectively during the ongoing PCB Panel Umpires & Match Referees Annual Workshop.
The purpose of these workshops is to bring the match officials across the country up to date with the latest laws of the game, PCB domestic playing conditions, code of conduct and clothing equipment regulations ahead of the 2019-20 domestic season.
In the Lahore workshop, the umpires were lectured by top-flight umpires, including Aleem Dar from the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, and Ahsan Raza and Asif Yaqoob, both members of International Panel of ICC Umpires, conducting the workshop.
The female umpires welcomed the decision to conduct such workshop and shared glimpses into their respective journeys.
Afia Amin, a Master’s degree holder, said: “I come from a conservative family, but my husband provided me all the support that I needed. My interest in umpiring developed after watching him officiate women’s matches.”
Humaira Farah, who is director sports at Lahore Garrison University and is pursuing PhD degree, said: “Women are an integral part of any society and the PCB’s step to train the umpires ahead of the season is praiseworthy. I aim to make the most of this workshop so I can have the honour of umpiring in an international women’s game.”
Nazia Nazir, who lectures on physical education at Government Township College in Lahore, said: “I couldn’t pursue my dream of becoming a cricketer due to family restrictions. Being an umpire provided me with an opportunity to return to the cricket field, which I grabbed with both hands. I want to become a regular umpire in ICC matches.”
Sabahat Rasheed, a former Pakistan international player, said: “Umpiring is a totally different profession and requires comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the laws of the game.”
Shakila Rafiq, a Master’s degree holder, said: “I idolise Aleem Dar. He has officiated innumerable matches and I look to make the most from his expansive experience of officiating top-flight international cricket.”
Impressed with the female umpires’ participation in the workshop, Aleem Dar said: “The female umpires are a great asset for Pakistan cricket. They have been working hard to leave a mark and their passion and love for the profession is truly commendable.
“The women in Pakistan have been playing an integral role in the development of the society and it is high time we recognise the efforts these women have been putting in.
“The female umpiring standards over the years have improved significantly. The more matches they will officiate, the better they will get.
“It is imperative on umpires like myself, who have international exposure, to pass on the knowledge that we have gained over the years to these dedicated women.
“These women are an inspiration to thousands out there and it was heartening for me to be able to share my experience and knowledge with them over the course of this workshop. I hope these women will attract more females towards the profession of umpiring and soon Pakistan will have a representation on the ICC Development Panel of Umpires.”