In 1997, a Srinagar girl came out from her cosy room and started taking part in sports, Bilquis Mir, who has created history by establishing her name in Water Sports. Currently, she is the only woman international referee of Kayaking from India, and is also heading water sports of the state; under her supervision, many young players brought laurels to the state.
Bilquis Mir, in conversation with Kashmir Vision’s sports correspondent, Pardeep Singh Dardi, sheds light on her career and challenges around.
KV: When did you start playing water sports and what was the reaction from your family and the society?
BM: When I started playing water sports in 1997, there was no scope for sports here. Sports were considering just the waste exercise and society was not responsive at all. Initially, in my sports carrier, my family was not supportive to what I was doing, and not to talk of society, it was far away from being supportive. Whenever a girl comes out from her cosy room in any other field besides sports, hundreds of questions are arises by the people living around, and same happened to me. I too had to face questions. It was not that easy for me to start my carrier in sports. What I did is that I treated every hurdle on my way as a challenge and continued with my journey.
KV: You said your family did not support you initially, what was their main reason for being non-supportive?
BM: The main reason was that they were unaware about sports. With the passage of time, when I stated winning medals in different championship, my mother thought our daughter is doing a good job and we should support her then my family members started supporting me. What I learned is that first you have to prove yourself, and then everyone accepts what you do.
KV: Almost every girl is having a dream of become a doctor, lawyer or any other officer; why was water sports your dream?
BM: Yes of course every girl cherishes a dream of become a doctor, engineer, IAS, IPS Officer, but since my childhood, I had dream to do something different. I chose water sports as my dream, because I wanted to show people sports was not only meant for boys, girls too, can prove their mettle.
The main reason I to choose water sports is that I wanted people should recognise me as a sports person and not as any officer.
KV: What actually boosted your sports carrier and what helped you in the achievement of your goal?
BM: Despite criticism, I never stopped moving ahead in my sports carrier and the negative approach of society towards me and the sports I have been playing boosted my sports carrier. Because of negative attitude of the society, this Bilquis is in front of you. My consistency, determination, luck and later, support of people around, helped me in achieving my goal.
KV: Was Government supportive when you started participating in water sport events?
BM: At the initial stage I had no sponsors and the government was not in the sight, in order to support me, but with the passage of time when people came to know about me, support poured in from different quarters.
KV: Do you think that present scenario of sports is different as compared to what used to be earlier?
BM: No doubt, present scenario of sports is better than what used to be in past. I can observe a revolution that is taking place in sports when we talk of our state; however, there is dire need of proper sports policy. Also, there is a need of advanced training for coaches.
KV: What you do you seek from Government for the promotion of water sports?
BM: The Government should come up with a strong policy for players because, players at the grass root level need you support. The policy should be framed in such a way that more and more players should part in water sports. Government should also appreciate talented players and coaches. Like in Haryana, when a player gets a medal, Government is usually quick to appreciate the player that ultimately encourages him or her to do best. Government should also utilize the services of senior player.
KV: Do you think unrecognised games that are on prowl in the state are threat for genuine games?
BM: First, I request to parents that when your child is opting for a game you should check if that game is a recognised by J&K State sports council or not. They already have a list of recognized and unrecognised games. In an unrecognized game your child spends five or more years what they get are awards, however, such games nowhere exist in Olympic, or at any international platform, that in turn means that it was wastage of time.
KV: What will be your message to young, budding players?
BM: Girls should come out from their cosy rooms and take active part in games. People around try their best to discourage them, but they should never lose their hope.