The people of Kashmir have a reason to smile. Curfews, shutdowns and restrictions on the public life have literally made the most controversial north Indian state, come to a standstill. Amidst such disorder, an eight-year-old girl from the state created history, on Friday, by winning the coveted gold medal for India in the World Kickboxing Championship of under-eight players in Italy’s southern coastal city of Andria, becoming the first player from the Valley to achieve such a feat.
Tajamul Islam, a class two student of the Army Goodwill School hails from Tarkpora village in Bandipora district, which is 65 km from Srinagar. She defeated her rival from USA to win the championship where ninety countries participated in the event.
Her coach Master Fasil Ali Dar beams with pride and this triumph indeed makes her the world’s youngest kick boxer to win an international gold. “She (Islam) has created history by winning a gold medal in the game at the age of eight,” said PDP leader Waheed Parra, who is also J&K State Sports Council secretary. Her coach added, “The sub-junior level closes at 14 years of age. Tajamul was the youngest in the category.”
In 2015, Islam gained the national recognition after bagging the gold medal in sub-junior category National Kickboxing Championship in New Delhi. The win paved the way for her participation in the World Championships. She had also won a gold medal in the Jammu and Kashmir Wushu Championships held at Haridwar, earlier this year.
She was coached by him for two years in the backyard of his house. “The girl came to me when she had just passed her upper kindergarten. Earlier, I had spotted Tajamul from a distance. She wasn’t yet completely conversant with the rules of the game but she had the speed. I found her instinctively aggressive,” said Fasal. And he also feels that her feat is more sterling keeping in mind the strained situation Kashmir has been facing for more than a century now. “We lack even the basic infrastructure. Yet, she won gold.”
Tajamul says in an interview, “I was walking near the stadium here when I saw many young boys and girls training. I saw them punching and I told my father that I wanted to join them and he let me.” Her father, Ghulam Mohammad Lone, is a driver for a construction company and somehow manages to make ends meet. There had been no lack of encouragement from him as he had sent Tajamul and her two sisters and two brothers to learn martial arts in Fasal’s academy.
This little girl’s story is inspiring and will motivate lot of girls to break barriers and achieve their dreams. “Our village is very backward but I, along with other kids like me, are going to take it to new heights,” she added.