Sakeena Akhtar, a girl with hopes and dreams, wanted to play cricket for India. Those dreams were shattered when her family did not encourage her pursuit. Unable to give up on her passion, she finally did manage to overcome the obstacles she faced, and has been a cricket coach for the last eight years at Kashmir University. Over the years, Sakeena has played a vital role in shaping a lot of prospective superstars for the country.
A resident of Munawarabad in Srinagar, Sakeena had never thought of making a career out of cricket. At this moment, she is the only qualified cricket coach in Kashmir, and is currently coaching the under-19 state girls team.
"When I was a kid, I was part of a boy’s cricket team in my locality. It was there that I learned the nuances of the game," she recalled in an interview with Kashmirlife. But she had to quit playing cricket when she joined higher secondary school because it was considered a taboo in those days. Later on, she joined the cricket team in school and shined in inter-school, district and state-level matches. It was in 1998 that Sakeena played her first under-19 cricket match, for which she was the 'Woman of the Series’ as best bowler and highest run-scorer.
Upon joining Women's College in Srinagar, bunking classes and spending time on the cricket ground for practice was how Sakeena spent a fair bit of her time. "My family was supportive, but they wanted me to focus on my career first," she said. After college, she studied at Kashmir University for higher studies. Soon enough, she realised what she wanted to do in life, and quit university after just the first semester and moved to Delhi for a diploma in sports. She passed a Level ‘A’ coaching course from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2009. Later, she started to work with the Sports Council Kashmir (SCK), where she arranged many camps for youngsters. "My first camp was at Polo Ground, where around 250 boys from different schools of Kashmir valley participated," she said. Not satisfied with it, she went on to apply for a lot of other jobs, and in 2007, she got contract-based work at Kashmir University. Right now, she is coaching both boys and girls at the University.
When asked about her future plans, she said, "I am planning to do all the three levels of coaching, after which I will become a National Coach, which will enable me to coach cricket enthusiasts anywhere in India."