It was not a bed of roses for Nadia Nighat to break through a stereotype and prove that a girl can excel in any field. She is now the first Kashmiri woman football coach. As India celebrates the 70th Republic Day at Rajpath, Republic TV honored the unsung heroes in a special broadcast titled 'Proud to be Indian' and speaking to us the football coach stated that when she started playing football in 2007, she was not supported by her parents at all, but once she played her first national game in 2010, her family came forward and motivated her.
Speaking about why she started concentrating on her coaching career rather than playing for the country, she said 'There are not that many opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir, and I wanted to play for the country, but I never got a chance and so I concentrated on my coaching career, as it would help other girls, who are looking for someone to push them further and motivate them'.
Nighat was the only girl among 40-50 boys who had joined a training session at a local college. The 20-year-old had to face a lot of criticisms, but she rose to all occasions.'Everybody thought that because I was a girl, it was better for me to study and do house-work, but I was always drawn to football from an early age' she said.
When asked what she would like to say to the naysayers who believe girls cannot play football, she said, 'women are excelling in all fields, so people should come ahead and motivate women rather than telling them that they cannot 'do' something'.
'The same thing happened to me too and I was very demotivated when there is nobody to support me, so I would just like to request all to motivate women in all fields, including Football so that our sports team too continues to strive and grow', she said.
She is an ardent fan of fan of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and so has named her club 'JJ7', that is inspired by Ronaldo's name and jersey number 'CR7.' On being asked about the message she wants to send across, she said ' I want others just like me, to take up their passion, and I want others to motivate girls to play sports'.
Currently, she is in Mumbai, training with the team and said that she would like to take in as much knowledge that she can acquire through the game and pass it on to her Football team back in Jammu and Kashmir.
With the help of JKFA, Nadia also enrolled for two coaching courses to teach herself the basics of the game. She also regularly attends the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she conducts training sessions for girls.