Ladies golf for national integration

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 PGF President Gen Hilal, “Taking Ladies Golfers to Baluchistan, 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 a 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 two other 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 Baluchistan, 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 and it has taken her 3 years for the 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 efficacious leadership, Dr Shami formed a core team of very competent and equally zealous Lady Golfers for carrying out the planning and 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.

The tournament was very hotly contested between 45 ladies, 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 the back count.

The real high point of this trip was the induction of 14 young sportswomen of Baluchistan into the fraternity of Ladies Golf. They spent the day observing the players play and later hitting the practicing range under the supervision of the resident coach.

Their interest in golf indicated their zeal and motivated the lady managers to facilitate them 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.

Dr Shami said, “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 Baluchistan.”