Afshan Ashiq became the poster girl of Kashmir agitation after her photograph of pelting stones at the J&K police went viral. Today the 21 years old football protégée from the valley is making her state proud by captaining the first ever Jammu and Kashmir women’s football team.
Afshan Ashiq: The Journey of a stone pelter turned women’s football team captain
Last year, a girl named Afshan Ashiq’s picture as a really angry Kashmiri girl pelting stones at the J&K police force went viral. This quickly got her into national media spotlight.
However, later it was discovered that she was a talented footballer. The 21-year-old Afshan Ashiq wants to represent India in women’s football. But an unfortunate incident was captured on 24th April, 2016 where she can be clearly seen pelting stones. People later on realized that she is a football player cum coach and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Women’s College in Srinagar.
But as every dark day has its end; it was for Afshan Ashiq as well. The talented youngster has now buried those memories, and is taking her football seriously. Her fame is helping a lot of Kashmiri girls to up their sports career get introduced to this male-dominated sport.
Afshan Ashiq currently plays for a club in Mumbai. Bollywood is also going to make a biopic on the talented Kashmiri girl.
Afshan Ashiq Meeting the J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti
The viral photograph of stone pelting was also noticed by J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti. She invited Afshan along with her team to her office. On meeting the girls, the J&K CM assured them her full support.
What really impressed Afshan about her state CM is the prompt action she took regarding Kashmir’s infrastructure facility of sports.
Talking about Mehbooba, Afshan said that the CM is already supporting them in a big way. She has instructed the sports secretary to take care of the requirements of the women’s football team. The state sports administration has from that day provided the girls with the required sports equipment, helping them put together a team within a year.
The J&K women’s football team amply reflects the regional diversity of J&K. The manager is a Ladakhi, the coach is a Sikh. The team members too hail from all three regions of the state.
Afshan Ashiq and her team meet Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh
Afshan Ashiq and the members of Jammu and Kashmir’s first women’s football team recently met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The girls apprised him of the difficulties faced by sportspersons in the state and sought his help.
Their meeting with Rajnath Singh lasted 30 minutes. The team members conveyed to the home minister about proper sports infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir. They said youths can be motivated to nourish their talents and bring laurels into the state. This will keep aside terrorism and other unlawful activities happening in and around the valley.
Manager of the first J&K women’s football team Tsering Angmo said sports infrastructure in border areas is very poor and needs urgent attention. If we get better facilities it will influence the youth to go away from militancy and stone pelting.
“If there is efficient sports infrastructure, the youngsters from valley can take up sports to nourish their talents. No one can brainwash anyone,” said Angmo, who hails from Ladakh.
Both Afshan Ashiq and Angmo acknowledged Singh for giving attention to their problems. They also thanked him for speaking to the chief minister and immediately asking her to do the needful.
Home Minister Lauds Afshan Ashiq and her team
After meeting the girls, the home minister tweeted. He wrote “Met the young and energetic girls of J&K’s first ever women football team. They are highly motivated & driven when it comes to football”.
He continued the tweet and wrote, “Playing the role of new age ‘Gender Benders’ these girls are setting an example for others to follow. I wish them success and a great future.”
Afshan Ashiq said that the team, which she captains, expressed their desire to keep sports above the politics, which has troubled the Valley in the past.
Afshan said, “We were asked why some youth in the Valley choose to become militants. I responded by saying that we were sportspersons and would prefer talking about sports.
A Positive meet for a Positive Kashmiri future
The new sports icon from Kashmir was mightily impressed with the meeting. The meeting was a positive development for the youth of the valley who seek a career in sports. The Government’s effort to make sports a trending activity is getting traction. The ‘KheloIndia’ initiative is one big step to make India a sporting nation.
Afshan Ashiq was part of the 25-member delegation, including other sport officials, which met Rajnath Singh at the North Block.
Soon after the meeting, the home minister called up J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. He conveyed to her that concerns of the young players be promptly taken up for redressal.
The Jammu and Kashmir women’s football team represents India’s diverse culture.
Out of the 22 women that met the senior minister, 11 were from J&K, five from Kashmir Valley, four from Jammu region. Two girls represented Ladakh.
Afshan’s team called J&K CM’s XI, has 11 girls from other parts of the country. Six are from Haryana, three from Odisha, and one each from Bihar and Jharkhand.
Recalling the Unfortunate incident
Remembering the unfortunate incident Afshan Ashiq says, “The day of the incident was something that changed my life forever. I and my teammates were on our way to meet state sport authorities regarding new equipment. This was the time when we were stopped and roughed by cops.”
She further narrates that, “My teammates defended themselves. I, as the captain of the team had to defend them and that’s exactly what I did. However for the media I became a stone pelter. I am a footballer and that did not even matter to them.”
Talking about her future plans Afshan said, “I want to play at international level. I have come this way without much support and I will continue my journey even if no one supports me.”
Afshan Ashiq sports Biopic on the cards
Bollywood actor Gulshan Grover is reportedly collaborating with his filmmaker son Sanjay to produce a feature film on the life of the Kashmiri girl. Tabloids report that the biopic is titled ‘Hope Solo’.
The film will be directed by Manish Harishankar and written by Saiwyn Quadras. The writer previously worked on the screenplays for Mary Kom and Neerja.
What impressed the makers about Afshan is her never back down attitude. The crux of the story according to the makers is of a promising football player who was opposed to violence. Her stone pelting image was considered emblematic of the anger of the youth of the conflict-torn region.
Sanjay Grover, who is settled in United States of America, previously worked with Hollywood studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer as a director for Special Projects. The story of Kashmir inspires him.
Afshan in a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, discussed the movie project with her. The makers of the film will start shooting only when they get all the authorized approvals.
Casting for the movie is underway. ‘Hope Solo’ will be produced in English and Hindi and aims for an international release.
For Kashmir to blossom once again, girls like Afshan Ashiq should come forward and make the change. The youth out there see their future getting tangled between Militancy and the ongoing tussle between the army and civilians. Sports can become their ideal gateway towards living a dignified and successful life.
Team KreedOn wishes the captain of the first ever J&K women’s football team all the best for their upcoming tournaments.