After shattering the stereotypes, a talented woman cricketer from a remote area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam is aiming to break records in her favourite game

Khushboo Aftab, an 18-year-old girl from Yaripora, a remote area in the Kulgam, dreamed of representing J&K in cricket at the highest level from an early age. The going wasn’t easy but, as is said, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Like other parts of the country, the game of cricket is followed and played religiously in Jammu and Kashmir as well. However, when it comes to women taking up cricket as a profession, gender discrimination always plays spoilsport.

But this wasn’t the case with Khushboo. Although it wasn’t a cakewalk for her to play cricket at the professional level, her determination and the support from her parents and teachers made things easier. Coming from a remote area, she had to struggle against the odds and as of now, is considered among the talented women cricketers of the UT.

 She played Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association’s (JKCA) U19 for the first time in 2018-19 and now is a part of the women’s Under-19 cricket for the past three seasons.

Khushboo started following her passion at the age of three when she wasn’t even able to hold the bat properly, and since then she has scaled noticeable heights in the game.   

 “I wasn’t able to hold the bat properly initially.  The kind support of my teachers came handy in the beginning. My school was my first training ground,” she added.

 “The names of my teachers like Showkat sir and Tanveer sir need a special mention as they helped me a lot in my school days. Later on, it was Mr Manzoor Ahmad from Kulgam, who not only gave me a platform but also taught me how to approach the game professionally, she added.

With the support of Lone Summayah, Khushboo’s coach, her performance improved leaps and bounds and she was selected for the U19 (among 30 in the squad).

Above all, it was because of the unflinching support of my parents that I am able to play the game with such freedom, Khushboo added.

Recently, she has been performing very well. In the recently concluded talent hunt cup, she amassed 82 runs and also bagged two wickets in a match. Her performance guided her team to a convincing win and gave her confidence a much needed boost.

“When I didn’t perform well in a game, I thought it was time to stop. But in the following match, I scored 82 runs and smashed a six like which no woman cricketer has hit so far. Such performances give you that much needed impetus to carry on,” she added.

At present Khusboo is working hard on his game as she aims to play at the highest level. Like her game, it is her confidence that is also growing. Her approach in facing the society is quite similar to the way she approaches the bouncers in the game. “ You pull, hook or sometimes duck under a bouncer but don’t let it hit you. This is how we as women sportspersons approach the stereotypical mind-set,” she said.

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