A class ninth student, Sakeena Akhter, has become the talk of the town because of her athletic adventures. Due to that, nondescript Gujjran village (Kashmir) has come into limelight. It all started in May 2015 when she participated in Zonal level race competition held at nearby Ashmuqam village.
With no training or knowledge of the sport, she took everyone by surprise by winning the race with a big margin.
“It was out of sheer curiosity that I enrolled myself for the race for which I had no formal training. Nor did I knew what an athlete meant,” says Akhter.
Her extraordinary performance caught the attention of the physical education teacher and later, she was selected for the district level competition. Here also, she had a successful run and was further chosen to participate in the state level competition which was held at Jammu. After convincing her parents, she left for the competition. “I had never stepped outside my village. Going to Jammu was like a dream,” said Akhter
She shocked everybody again when she won then 3000-meter race. “I was speechless when I crossed the finish line and saw that others are still far behind,” says Akhter.
However, she told she didn’t practice for the same as she had to trek two kilometers daily to go to her school.
Impressed by her performance, Akhter’s father Mohammad Abdullah, who rears cattle for a living, said, “I will do whatever I could to make her realize her dreams.”
Soon after, she was selected to represent J&K in women’s category at the national level.
But, that left her in a dilemma as she had to leave for Jammu the same day her elder sister was getting married. “I bagged the sixth position. It was quite an achievement as the event was national level competition,” said Akhter.
Representational Image. Gujjars are socially and economically considered backward in the Valley.
Though it was a big achievement for her and her village, Akhter’s struggles are far from over.
“In our community girls of my age can wait for maximum two more years before we are married. My elder sister was just 16 when she got married last year,” she said. For now, Akhter is taking life as it comes.