The showing with which they have gladdened hearts across the country during the Women’s World Twenty20 has been such that their losing to the English team can very easily be forgiven.
We refer, of course, to the recent defeats meted out by the Pakistan national women’s cricket team to India and Bangladesh, where the players in green showed mettle that was thrown in especially high relief in comparison to the performance put up by their male counterparts.
The women’s team played with resolve and fortitude, turning in an admirable overall performance and holding out the promise of more prestigious wins in the future.
Above all, they demonstrated that it is not winning or losing that matters but the manner in which the game is played.
While the national women’s cricket team is being praised for its grit, it should be noted that although Pakistani sportswomen have often done their nation proud, they are generally starved of either the sort of recognition or the institutional support that they deserve.
Whether it is footballer Hajra Khan and her colleagues, squash player Maria Toorpakai, tennis player Sarah Mahboob or a whole host of others across the sporting spectrum (including sports that have traditionally in Pakistan been the preserve of men, such as weightlifting, boxing and swimming), women are signing up like never before.
Yet as far as the state and those of its institutions that are meant to promote sports are concerned, our sportswomen might as well be invisible.
The support our women require in terms of training and practice opportunities, funding, marketing, and changing societal mindsets, can be of a much higher calibre than is currently the case. Where this has been forthcoming, even if in dribs and drabs — as has been the case with women’s cricket — much has been achieved.
In fact, besides possessing the talent to excel in sports, Pakistani women have also demonstrated a determination to succeed. Is the state doing anything about tapping into this vast potential?