Second, Pakistan’s active participation in this sport helps bring world wide recognition to our country. As our team and players travel around the world to compete and when other teams come to Pakistan to play against our team, we are promoting our country. Others get to meet Pakistanis and learn about Pakistan from our players who then actually become ambassadors.
This aspect is very similar to the pageant industry, where women who represent Pakistan interact with women from around the world. Through these friendships it is quite amazing how informal education on the country, culture and peoples are transferred. Pakistan needs as much promotion as possible right now from all of our formal and informal ambassadors.
Cricket and the development of Pakistan:
If you look at any developed nation, they have an enriched athletic scene. This is along with other aspects of society, such as media, fashion, arts, education, health and so on. In Pakistan, I believe we have to focus on all these other aspects to help ourselves progress and prosper. If sports and cricket are not well emphasized then we will lose positive activities for young men (and women) to go into. Studies show that there is a link between high levels of testosterone (male hormone) and violent behviour and aggression. Adolescent males have high levels of testosterone and thus, experience a lot of aggression. Of course this is physiologically normal for young men all around the world. In many countries and communities where positive outlets such as sports exist, along with appropriate mentorship by other men, this does not necessarily become a huge social problem. However, in developing countries where there are limited options along with layers of poverty, civil unrest, political turbulence, and economic despair, this aggression can turn into severe anger and violence. Young men in these cases often end up resorting to negative outlets and become vulnerable to mixing with the wrong crowds, such as gangs and terrorits groups. Thus, we should help develop sports and other positive physical and creative outlets in Pakistan.
Women and cricket:
I think women should be more involved in cricket or sports in general, not just cheering on their favorite players but as players themselves. The women currently in cricket are very inspiring to women all over the wold. We need to encourage women to go into sports for so many reasons. First, we need more outlets for women. Second, women need creative, healthy and positive outlets to be physically active. Cricket is a fun activity, and not just one to play if you want to be in the professional leagues.
Women and physical fitness:
Unfortunately, many Pakistani women are not as physically active as they should be in their younger years and thus face the ageing process earlier or harsher with various illnesses such as bone density loss, osteoporosis, and weight gain and so on. Women must keep their muscles strong to help keep their bones in proper position; this becomes very important as we age. If women were encouraged to stay active, by say participating on women’s teams at early ages, then likely it would be something they would continue doing throughout their life.
In addition, we often misunderstand what a healthy body looks like. Just because one is very ‘skinny’, or less than 100lbs (very common for Pakistani teens and young adults), does not mean one is healthy. Many Pakistani women are not overweight at all, but their heart rates have never been challenged through cardiovascular activity and likely their weight is made up of more fat than muscle mass. Women who work out can weigh more because muscle weighs more than fat, and we need muscles to be strong. Overall, we need to foster a culture that encourages an active and positive lifestyle for men, women and youth.
People usually ask me because I am a Pakistani who my favorite cricketer is. I really cannot decide, I like all of them. Ones who stand out in my mind are the ones who truly became world famous such as Shahid Afridi, Imran Khan and Javed Miandad. I especially like the female players because I think they are making for good role models, perhaps even moreso than the men.
Pakistan and Cricket is Like Canada and Hockey
As a Canadian, I see many similarities between Pakistan and its fascination with cricket and Canada and its fascination with ice hockey. Just like when there is a Canada-U.S. ice hockey match, the fans go wild and the ticket sales go through the roof, the same it is for Pakistan-India cricket matches. My Canadian friends, especially the guys, are just gaga during hockey season and the same with my Pakistani male friends during cricket matches. It is interesting that as a Canadian and a Pakistani, I am really not a die-hard fan, nor a player, of either sport, athough I do watch both every now and then.
How do I then keep active? Well, I love soccer and I often wonder during the World Cup if this means I should obtain a third nationality. In addition, my fit-keeping activities also include badminton, hiking, taking long walks, and dancing. Having a variety of physical activities in your routine helps keep your body guessing and your muscles working harder. Once again, it is an important aspect of a high quality life to have various physical outlets available to you.
This article was originally published in "Pakistan Abroad" newspaper on Thurs, Sept 23rd 2010. See it here on page 6,
About the author: "Tahmena Bokhari is dedicated to promoting positive images of Pakistan as well as promoting critical dialogue on the various serious issues facing Pakistanis around the world."
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