Girls should not be rendered as fragile flowers: Bilquis Mir
Bilquis Mir is a global sports sensation from Kashmir , a global water sports star . She has her roots in Downtown Srinagar .Bilquis is the first water sports coach, globally acclaimed Sports Judge from Kashmir and the first Olympic-level women’s kayaking and canoeing player from the Kashmir region.
She is Director J&K Water Sports .In an exclusive interview with News Kashmir, she talks to Rameez Makhdoomi and Farzana Mumtaz .
Tell us a bit about your journey and the hardships you faced?I started my sports career from 5th class and depicted interest and participated in Water sports especially Kyaking sport . The field of water sports is seen as men dominated and I took this challenge head on being a woman. Dawning a track suit and structure of this sport is challenging for girls. I started my participation from 1998 in a tournament organized by Police Department. I stood first but was beaten at home when I went with Trophy and rupees 15000 . They too were unaware and thus acted harshly . I believe the struggle of girl starts from the door of the house. My journey was like that because I was not having direction or having any role model thus convincing family became difficult.
A bit about your sports achievements?I have played more than 20 Nationals and bagged more than 20 medals . My highest achievement was participation in 2009 world cup held in Hungary , I was lone girl from country . I made my way upto Semifinal. I was India team Chief Coach for 8 years and made transition as Judge in an international panel . I was Judge in the prestigious Asian Games.I broke many a times during my journey but I didn’t felt defeated. I have visited more than 25 countries in my sports journey. Me and my mother felt that had I got defeated it would have been defeat of all girls. The society cursed me a lot due to their unawareness. I also fell into depression during the zenith of my career as I felt my achievements were not being recognized duly but my well wishers kept me motivated. I believe the more negative approach you face it encourages you to excel further. The struggles make your life polished. Here in Kashmir and also in many parts of the world pale of gloom descends when daughter is born and treated as liability. The sons are treated as blessing . Why such cruel bais exists in the Society? Woman in our part of the world is neither given identity nor home. We need to invest in girls, don’t make girls the fragile flower but a tough human ready to face every struggle.
Your take on rise in crime against women?Domestic violence in Kashmir is increasing and also in many parts of the world as right from her home girl is taught to be familiar with oppression and not raising voice. This entails serious aftermath on them and as a result in laws often dominate them brutally .There are many sportspersons in both genders but very little have ambitions to become Judges.
How did that transition happen?I had witnessed in the world cup from start to end and also in many events very rare women judges in panel. When I was Judge in 18th Asian Games, I saw very few women judges and that was dream come true. I qualified the world Judge exams of Kayaking and got second rank .
We talk of women Empowerment but there are very few women in decision making and this motivated me to be Judge. A bit about Kayaking Game that you have shined ?The Kayaking Game has its roots in Canada in 1924 and then later on it became Olympic event in 1937. We people in Kashmir are blessed with scores of water bodies , we have both flat water and wild water . We in Kashmir can achieve zenith both in water and winter sports. Kyaking is becoming popular in Kashmir and world too .In month of June we are holding first ever rowing championship here and the Government is taking steps to promote it .We have 13 events in it like Canoe Sprint , Canoe polo , and Canoe slalom in wild waters. We have dragon boat which is famous in Kerala. I was more interested and shined in Canoe Sprint of 500 Meters as Single .
What is future of water sports in Kashmir?I have a dream that we shine in world of water sports. We need to make sports compulsory on school level. Sports as important as Math or English. We can fight social menace like drug addiction through water sports. I am sure in coming times we will have hundreds of Bilquis .Mobile addiction is dangerous as drug addiction and fit youth can be achieved only through sports.
Are schools approaching you for training ?
Yes we are training scores of school students in water sports and participation in sports these days generates innumerable jobs for our youth both in the Government and private sector.
Your inspiration?Initially I didn’t had many icons , but yes as I moved ahead Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom became my icon as I came to know how struggles shaped her to be global icon .
Your message to women ?
My message to women is don’t get discouraged after failures. A women should not feel ashamed when she cries or faces failures but she should get up after every cry or failure to conquer the challenges .