“It has been very difficult to explain to people. I have been training for javelin throw since I started sports in school. Before Arshad Nadeem’s Olympic campaign nobody would understand what I have been training for,” Fatima Hussain, a younger lady elaborates what it means to be a javelin thrower in Pakistan and that too being a girls within the sport.
Athletics and all of the disciplines that come beneath it have been vastly uncared for in Pakistan. Historically, the general public have talked about dash athletes solely and hardly anybody talks in regards to the decathlon or heptathlon occasions.
For Fatima, who competes for Wapda within the nationwide occasions, the primary degree of her life-long battle has been to only clarify to folks what her ardour is, as a result of in a cricket-mad nation those who will not be part of the standard tide are often left on one aspect.
“I have always trained for and played javelin throw,” Fatima advised The Express Tribune. “It would get very difficult at times, because mostly people do not understand. If they did they wouldn’t react very positively. Due to Nadeem’s performance, at least now people understand how the event happens and what the sport is like.”
Fatima is predicated in Faisalabad, a metropolis that has given many athletes to Pakistan and has immense potential for athletics. Nadeem’s breakthrough marketing campaign on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which concluded in August, has been a sigh of aid for a lot of observe and area athletes in Pakistan.
Nadeem turned the primary Pakistani in 2019 on the South Asian Games in Nepal to qualify for the Olympics observe and area occasion immediately in males’s javelin throw. He later competed on the Games and completed fifth after a surprising efficiency, regardless of not receiving the identical services or teaching as the remainder of the worldwide javelin throwers. He certified for the ultimate after which completed fifth.
Fatima hopes to see extra assist for the observe and area athletes sooner or later, as a result of thus far the eye span of the folks has been painfully brief and the journey for her has been exceedingly difficult.
“I started in school,” explains the 23-year-old. “Most people had told me to play cricket or do something else. For some time I didn’t even tell my parents when I picked javelin throw in school.”
Fatima, nevertheless, says that her college academics helped her and advised her dad and mom too, and there had been different ladies who’ve been eager on pursuing athletics as a profession, however not essentially javelin throw.
“I was just curious to know what javelin throw is when I was in school. It must be 2012 till 2013 and then 2014 that I really trained and finally got make my mark at the National Championship in 2016,” mentioned Fatima.
Across the board pursuing sports activities is troublesome for ladies in Pakistan, and Fatima remembers her expertise of being even cat-called by males once they would see the women carrying the trainers with their robes.
“The society does not make it easy for us, even though I got support at home after a while. But when we go out for training, even when we are wearing our long gowns to keep our dressing modest, men would taunt us on the road and on the way. They would say come run with us, come let’s have a race, when they would see us wearing our running shoes or spikes. It happens and this is a part of what we have to go through, it is not easy, but we carry on,” mentioned Fatima.
Fatima has represented Pakistan on the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017, whereas on the nationwide circuit she is a prime thrower and has 5 gold medals and a number of silver medals all through her profession since she first made look on the nationwide championship in 2016.
She is the highest participant as of the 2019 National Games, the place she had a throw of 43.93m in Peshawar, whereas not one of the athletes have gotten any competitors since November of that 12 months because the Covid-19 restrictions got here into place in 2020.
In the final championship that was in 2018, she threw 39.13m and nonetheless completed on the prime, and regardless of sporadic occasions to compete in, has been enhancing.
However, she feels that the shortage of competitions has been a supply of fear for her and different athletes.
“We haven’t gotten enough competitions really,” mentioned Fatima because the final occasion she received and competed in was almost two years in the past. “The national record among women in javelin throw is 44.78. I have hit 43.93m so I am improving, but we don’t have enough events to really keep ourselves busy. A proper cycle of the competitions is necessary to improve our form and technique.”
She added that there’s additionally a limitation that lack of occasions brings. “We also don’t have a lot of players to really have that much of a cut-throat competition, because mostly people don’t see a scope in javelin throw. They drop out or avoid picking it up in the first place, but the players that we do have, we keep competing amongst ourselves, and that really doesn’t help in improving a lot,” mentioned Fatima.
She mentioned that regardless of the variety of athletes within the self-discipline she tries to coach youthful ladies in the event that they do come to her.
She mentioned that it’s the lack of competitions mixed with the dearth of services and tools that makes the lifetime of a javelin thrower or observe and area athletes troublesome.
“I do try to help the girls, but we don’t even have new and modern equipment,” defined Fatima, despite the fact that she goals of competing within the Olympics in the future and desires to see herself enhance in accordance with the worldwide requirements.
“We don’t even have the equipment. Like the javelin that I first used in school was made of wood. That is how we start, but even now, after all these years, we’re using an old javelin. We have two javelins here, one is from 1999 and the other from 1990. We have to be very careful while using these javelins because we don’t want to break them, or else we won’t have any equipment,” mentioned Fatima. “The younger players who come to me, I try to share the javelins with them, but we have to be extremely careful.”
The whole quantity wanted to purchase a brand new javelin, Fatima reveals, will probably be Rs30,000 to 40,000. Meanwhile, many of the athletes do not need spikes both. Fatima says she wants new spikes however that will require Rs20,000 to 25,000 extra, which she can’t afford on condition that the athletes don’t earn a lot by way of their departmental jobs.
It is often identified that the highest athlete on the nationwide athletics championship would get Rs5,000 for successful the title, which is embarrassing of a sum to even point out for many athletes.
But Fatima desires to maintain her hopes up, now that the individuals are speaking about javelin throw and Nadeem’s achievement. She is hoping for the Athletics Federation of Pakistan together with different sports activities authorities to have a more in-depth have a look at the expertise in Pakistan on the subject of the observe and area occasions.
“We want new tools to begin with. I don’t even have correct sneakers. We want extra curiosity and funding in athletics.
“In Pakistan we need coaches. Maybe we can get international coaches to come to Pakistan and train more players here and have local coaches trained by them too, so that we can have an active eco-system that can help the athletes across the different disciplines,” suggests Fatima.
She additional provides that she takes on-line classes and training from a Nigerian coach as she can’t discover correct teaching in Pakistan, regardless of being a prime javelin thrower.
On the opposite hand, sponsors don’t step ahead both that may assist in nurturing the expertise of the athletes who’re already doing every part they will to make Pakistan proud.
Fatima trains on daily basis for a minimum of three hours, despite the fact that for the final two years there have been no occasions to compete in.
When requested what retains her going, she merely says it’s her religion and her ardour. “My motivation comes from hoping that issues can get higher and having religion, other than the much-needed ardour.
“I want to request the authorities to support us, and sponsors should come forward. There is a lot of talent and there is a lot of passion for athletics, for javelin throw even, and I want more resources to come our way so that we can make our mark internationally too.”
Pakistan will probably be internet hosting the 2023 South Asian Games and if all issues go in accordance with plan, Fatima’s hometown, Faisalabad, will probably be one of many venues too. She is hoping to be part of the Pakistan squad after she had missed the 2019 South Asian Games.
Fatima is a dreamer and a persistent one, regardless of getting minimal pay from her division and likewise dealing with all odds as a lady athlete living in Pakistan.