Bisma Amjad: The Female Pakistani who had to Cut Off her Hair to Play Sports

It is no secret that the sports industry is a male-dominated world. In this industry, especially in smaller, more traditional countries, it can be difficult for women to even practice playing a sport. Case in point – Bisma Amjad. Bisma is a cricket player who aspires to play cricket internationally. She was chosen to play for Pakistan’s Under-19 World Cup with her skills and hard work. But because the pandemic halted all sports activities, Bisma was left in the dark to practice independently. 

Being in Pakistan, where traditional cultural gender norms are still apparent, females had restricted movement, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Usually, it was made by people who can freely go out to work, on errands, and even practice and play sports. Bisma did not have any of it and decided to take matters into her own hands.

Off with Her Hair

Bisma literally has to cut her hair and dress like a man to join the guys playing “gully cricket,” which is Pakistan’s version of street cricket. As per Bisma, there are still certain stigmas for females who play sports. For example, she would often hear comments from her family members and neighbors for her to avoid playing in the streets because her skin color would be darker or focus on finding a husband. According to Bisma, it is not uncommon for females to cut their hair and dress up like guys to practice sports without being noticed. Many of her friends do that – and this is where she came up with the idea of cutting her hair and dressing up like a guy to be prepared for the international games when Covid-19 border restrictions are lifted. This reflects how women who play sports struggle greatly in the Pakistani community.

Women and Cricket

Fortunately, Bisma has the support of her family, especially her father, to pursue her passion. Her father used to drive her to and from cricket practice. But her father recently became ill, and Bisma had to learn how to ride a bike and commute for herself – but that presented many problems as people were calling her out for riding a bike and not wearing her headscarf. Bisma is also giving any of her hard-earned money from playing cricket straight to her family to prove that she can earn money through pursuing her passion. But because of the ongoing pandemic, the women’s league for Pakistan cricket is still on hold. Her family decided to give Bisma one year to make her case or drop cricket altogether.

The Future of Women Playing Cricket in Pakistan

Bisma and her teammates have been at a standstill for almost three years because of the Covid-19 pandemic. While their main counterparts have the freedom to practice and play cricket as they get ready for international games, Bisma and the rest of her female teammates are still waiting for the go signal from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), so they can pick up where they have left off. According to Ramiz Jana, the PCB chairman, he has confirmed that hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.