LAHORE - The Rukhsana Arshad Women Hockey Academy (RAWHA) has been working not only for the promotion of women hockey but also for women empowerment in Pakistan.

RAWHA secretary Sehrish Ghumman, who himself is a former international hockey player, said this while talking to The Nation during the academy’s second anniversary and award giving ceremony held here at a local hotel. She said: “Though we could arrange an exhibition match in a typical way yet we have decided to honour not only the players to motivate and encourage them by awarding prizes but also distributed prizes among the guests and guest of honours alongside life time achievement awards for those who did a lot for hockey especially for women hockey and their empowerment.”

The awards ceremony was graced by PHF president Chaudhry Akhtar Rasool and Noreen Steward as chief guests while guests of honour POA secretary Khalid Mehmood Chaudhry, Brig Rahat, Dr Tahira Hussain, Shamsa Hashmi, Olympian Mansoor Ahmad, M Arshad Ghumman, RAWHA patron, Ramzan Ghumman president and Sehrish Ghumman, secretary, were also present on the occasion.

“During the awards ceremony, most junior, junior and senior players of RAWHA were given away the awards by the guests. The academy’s players, who made their way to the national hockey squad, Asma Ashraf, Bushra Nazeer, Zaibun Nissa, Shahida Raza, Sahil Malik and Hina Pervaiz, were also handed over the prizes. Special guests Akhtar Mumtaz Butt, Shamsa Hashmi, Nosheen Hanif, Ms Sumera Rizwan, Razia Rizvi and Olympian Mansoor Ahmad were presented souvenirs while Barrister Shahida Jameel, Perveen Gill Sikander, Dr Bushra Mateen, Dr Tahira Hussain were awarded lifetime achievement awards and late Munir Dar Olympian was also paid tribute for his meritorious services for Pakistan hockey,” Sehrish added.

The RAWHA secretary said: “The purpose of arranging such a grand awards ceremony for the academy players was to make them realize their strength and to motivate and encourage them to do their best for their country. We want to improve the standard of women hockey and want the players train in such a way that they may flourish in all the fields alongside hockey. We have been providing training and all the modern facilities including hockey sticks and equipment free of cost.

“Not only this, we have been helping the players to get education free by providing them school fee, books, medical facilities, refreshment and conveyance free of cost. We want to train the layers in such a way that they may be more confident, fluent in Urdu and English languages, and efficient not only in the game but also in other fields. Basically, we are working for women empowerment,” she added.

Revealing the purpose of establishing RAWHA, Sehrish said: “After sudden death of my mother Rukhsana Arshad in 2009, it was my wish to keep my parents name alive and the idea of establishing a hockey academy after her name was best way to pay tribute to her and continue her mission of empowering women. She wanted me to represent the country as hockey player and captain which I, by the grace of God, fulfilled and now I have been working on great cause of providing moral, ethical, mental and physical training to more than 100 women players free of cost.”

To a query regarding future of RAWHA and women hockey , the ex-women hockey player said: “We will continue this noble work at the platform of RAWHA and provide the country well educated, well mannered and quality women hockey players who not only win laurels for the country but also portray a better and softer image of the country in and outside the hockey fields in the country and abroad. The future of women hockey is bright and we will do our best to contribute maximum in this regard.”

About their sponsor Coca Cola and their contribution for women hockey in Pakistan, Sehrish lauded the services of Coca Cola CEO John Steward and Noreen Steward and thanked them for their outstanding services for women hockey in the country. “When I shared my vision with Coca Cola CEO John Steward and Noreen Steward, they not only agreed but also supported me fully and helped me make my dream true. It is also request to other sponsors and multi-nationals to come forward and support women hockey which has bright future.” “I am also very grateful to my father Arshad Ghumman and my entire family who supported me at every step and due to their sincere efforts, now the academy has started bearing fruit and its players has now been representing the country and earning good name for it. I hope with the passage of time, the RAWHA will be a landmark as far as empowering women and promotion of women hockey are concerned,” Sehrish Ghumman concluded.