Ladies golf plays a role in national integration

Sunday, Oct 10, 2021

QUETTA: A truly unique event, bordering on the unbelievable, took place two weeks ago, when Dr Asma Afzal Shami, Chairperson Ladies Golf PGF, took 50 lady golfers from all over Pakistan to Quetta, to participate in the first ever Balochistan Ladies Golf Championship held on 25-26 September 2021.

In the words of Gen Hilal Hussain, President PGF, “Taking Ladies Golf to Balochistan, that too in such numbers, has left most of us in awe.”

A bit of recent history needs to be recounted here. Ladies Golf in Pakistan had remained rather low key till, in 2016, Gen Zaheer-Ul-Islam, the then President PGF, acceded to Dr Shami’s passionate request to sanction the holding of an exclusive, Annual Ladies Golf Championship at the National level, to be rotated between Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. This proved to be a ‘Game Changer’ from which there has been no looking back. Since then, Dr Shami, along with the other two Lady Members of the PGF’s Executive Committee, i.e. Ms Zeenat Ayesha and Mrs Humaira Khalid, have been able to prevail upon the Punjab, Sindh, KPK and Federal Golf Associations to sanction similar Ladies Golf Championships in their respective domains.

However, as Balochistan, for obvious reasons, had so far remained outside this circuit, it had for long been Dr Shami’s ardent desire to, “Somehow, take Ladies Golf to Quetta.” It has taken 3 years for this dream to be realized. When she first floated this idea she expected just a few ladies to join her. But, to her pleasant surprise, the numbers just kept increasing by the day. Significantly, even when a bomb blast took place two weeks prior to the event, not a single lady opted to drop out. In fact the number of Lady participants virtually doubled from 25 to 50.

In keeping with the best norms of successful leadership, Dr Shami formed a ‘Core Team’ of very competent and equally zealous Lady Golfers for carrying out the meticulous planning and flawless execution required for the success of this rather unique event. Working under the overall supervision of Mamoona Azam, Rahina Ehtisham (Lahore), Zeenat Ayesha (Islamabad) and Fawzia Naqvi (Karachi), this Core Team successfully overcame the multifarious challenges involved in synchronising the movement of 50 Lady Golfers flying in from Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, as well as in arranging their reception, transportation, board and lodging, and final departure from Quetta. In addition, there was a need for coordinating necessary security aspects with the concerned authorities. Mrs Mahzareen Gul, a resident of Quetta, was designated as the ‘Official Hostess’ and went out of her way to facilitate the working of this Team. Although the Ladies generally bore all their own expenses, Chairman Wapda made a generous donation of Rs. 5 lakhs towards subsiding the accommodation costs of the participants.

While Mrs Mahzareen Gul, as the Tournament Director, assisted by Seharbano Hamdani and Munazza Shaheen, conducted the actual Golf Championship strictly according to R&A Rules, Bela Azam, Shabana Waheed, Iffat Zahra and Shehnaz Moeen ensured the flawless conduct of the Prize Distribution Ceremony. The Tournament itself was very hotly contested in which 45 Ladies participated of whom 8 were single handicappers. The age bracket of the golfers ranged from 9 (Daniah Irfan) to 76 years (Mrs Yasmeen Mubarik). As there was a tie between Rimsha Ejaz, handicap 2, (151) and Hamna Amjad, handicap 1.7, (151), Rimsha Ejaz was declared as the overall winner of the Championship on back count.

The real high point of this trip was the induction of 14 young sportswomen of Balochistan into the fraternity of Ladies Golf. They spent the day observing the players play and later hitting on the practising range and putting on the practise green under the supervision of the resident coach. Their interest in golf indicated their zeal and motivated the visiting Lady Golfers to facilitate them even further. Three ladies golf sets were donated by the visiting Lady Golfers to the Quetta Golf Club and placed there for the use of these newly registered golfers. In addition, Dr Shami requested its President to grant them gratis ‘Playing Rights’ as well as free coaching. Another notable event was a talk by Brig Agha Gul (Retd), a former Vice Chancellor of Balochistan University, on the Geography and History of Balochistan.

However, to Quote Dr Shami, “Our prime motivating factor for organising this event was not merely to play golf. In fact, our aim was to make a practical contribution towards the National Integration of our beloved Pakistan and also to help in projecting the Soft Image of our equally beloved Balochistan.” And, by all accounts, the visiting Lady Golfers certainly succeeded in their patriotic endeavour.