ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s top female karate player Kalsoom Hazara has lamented that lack of national championships and international exposure were the main hurdles between Pakistan female players and international success.

Talking to The Nation, Kalsoom said: “Pakistani females are not less than males, which we have proved time and again. I have won SAF gold medals thrice and I am highly optimistic about my chances in the upcoming Asian Games in Jakarta. I am playing karateka for last 16 years and I am undisputed champion in -67kg weight category at national level for last 16 years.”

She said she had completed hat-trick of gold medals in South Asian Games. “I used to watch lot of action movies, which attracted me a great deal towards picking karate for self-defence. I am the most senior player and I have honour of taking part in all international matches. Our coach Shah Muhammad is very cooperative and our senior male players are also very supportive and help us practice well and guide us about latest techniques.”

Kalsoom said that the participation in Islamic Solidarity Games in Iran, Asian Games and Asian Championship helped me a lot in learning a lot while playing top professionals. I hope with more international exposure, me as well as other female players will improve their games and skills.

“Unfortunately, there is not a single professional female coach, who may guide us latest and modern techniques, which are taught to karatekas of other top nations. There was only one female coach of Wapda, who has left Pakistan. I request the IPC Ministry and Pakistan Sports Board to provide us qualified female coaches. If provided professional female coaches, we are capable of beating any given player.

“Although the Pakistan Karate Federation (PKF) is doing its job well in limited resources, but very less national championships in a year is a big drawback, which needed to be addressed immediately. But against all the odds, Pakistani players are working hard and trying to win glories for the country. I hope that after Imran Khan takes oath as Prime Minister and gets free from the national matters, he will surely bring betterment in sports, which will flourish rapidly under his dynamic leadership,” she added.

Sharing her views, Nargis Hameedullah, who is national champion in +68kg and belongs to Quetta Hazara community, said she is passionate karateka, but due to limited opportunities and insecure environment in Quetta, she has to train at home, as she can’t go out in open, due to security issues.

Nargis said Sensoi Ghulam Ali Hazara is her coach. “I played in Baku Islamic Games and finished semifinalist, while won gold in my category in Sri Lanka in South Asian Games. On my own expenses, I also played in Dubai League twice and went to India, where I won one silver and two bronze medals in SAG.

“I request government to pay heed to Quetta and Balochistan, as we are highly deprived and need government to help us. Balochistan is full of talented players, who have potential to earn laurels for the country at national and international level. I am optimistic about my chances in the Asian Games and will try my best to win medal for my country,” Nargis concluded.