By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, Mar 09 ( Diplomatic Star ): Chargé d’Affaires of the Australian High Commission Islamabad, Bryce Hutchesson on Wednesday said women empowerment was more imperative for any country and its socio-economic uplift, besides a way forward to establish a strong sustainable and prosperous society.
He expressed these views while addressing the media at the sixth AHC-PCB Girls’ Cricket Cup at F-9 Cricket Ground here.
The Australian High Commission (AHC) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) with the support of Serena Hotels jointly hosted the event.
He said physical education and sport is one of the fundamental right of every girl and giving them an equal opportunity is the responsibility of the government civil society to encourage them for their enormous contributions in every filed of life.
On the occassion, Australia’s Chargé d’Affaires congratulated the girls and the schools on their participation and welcomed the continued support of the PCB and Serena Hotels for the annual AHC-PCB Girls’ Cricket Cup.
He said that the Australian High Commission has been sponsoring girls’ cricket in Pakistan since 2016 to promote gender equality through sport. “We began with a single annual tournament in Islamabad which has since expanded to Lahore and Karachi,” he added.
“Our countries share a passion for cricket, so we’re very pleased to support this event. Cricket and other sports can help tear down barriers and stereotypes. Every time these girls make some runs, take a wicket or hold a catch, they are taking a step towards greater equality,” he said.
The girls attended a five-day coaching clinic in the lead-up to the competition conducted by PCB first-class cricket coaches.
Hutchesson said the High Commission was particularly happy to support the initiative during the Australian Cricket Team’s historic tour to Pakistan. He said that it was a great time for cricket in Pakistan, obviously after concluding the first cricket test match in Rawalpindi and the next test will be played in Karachi.
He said it was a great moment to give these girls the opportunity to play with their colleagues and peers and to conduct themselves equally in sports and whatever field, learning teamwork and making friendships.
The Head of Women Cricket at Pakistan Cricket Board, Tania Malik said, “On the auspicious occasion of the International Women’s Day yesterday, with the Australian Cricket men’s team playing in Pakistan after decades – it is a privilege to collaborate with the Australian High Commission to organize this cricket event for underprivileged girls.”
“The Australian High Commission with the support of PCB has always played a vital role in promoting women cricket and investing in the empowerment of women in Pakistan. Such events can play an important role in the development and promotion of women’s cricket. We look forward to further strengthening our relationship,” she added.
Aziz Boolani, CEO of Serena Hotels, said, “Cricket is a passion in Pakistan. Under Serena Hotels Sports Diplomacy initiatives, we support, facilitate, and sponsor numerous sporting events, and our commitments to sports diplomacy and women’s empowerment have found expression in the AHC-PCB Girls’ Cricket Cup. This tournament provides a wonderful vehicle for promoting and highlighting the importance of gender equality in sport.”
The AHC-PCB Girls’ Cup Islamabad involved teams from four schools: Mashal Model School Bari Imam, SOS Children’s Village H-11, and Islamabad Model School for Girls – F-6/1 and Islamabad Model School for Girls I-9/1 Islamabad.
Replying to a question posed by the diplomatic Star journalist, Bryce Hutchesson said the Australian cricket team’s historic tour to Pakistan was an exciting time for cricket fans in both Australia and Pakistan as cricket was one of the many bonds that bring the two countries together.