Pakistan women break new ground at kabaddi world cup

Pakistan women break new ground at kabaddi world cup
In this photograph taken on November 26, 2013, members of Pakistan's women's kabaddi team take part in a practice match at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore.

LAHORE, Pakistan - Sixteen young Pakistani women will make history this weekend as they compete in the kabaddi world cup - the first time the conservative Muslim country has ever fielded an international women's team in the sport.

The traditional tag-wrestling sport involves players trying to tag an opponent before making it back to their half of the field.

Kabaddi is hugely popular in the Punjab provinces of India and Pakistan, where it originates, and is played in countries around the world with South Asian populations.

It has traditionally been seen as a macho sport but now Pakistan is sending a women's team to the November 30-December 14 World Cup in India.

For 24-year-old Sayeda Fareeda Khanum, who comes from a conservative, religious family where she fought for years to be allowed to compete in sports, it is a dream come true.

"I have been sports crazy since childhood and was selected for national events in various sports many times, but I was never allowed by my family to attend a training camp outside college or university," she told AFP.

"But when I got selected for the kabaddi team, I told my mother that I would play this sport at any cost and left home to join the camp in Lahore." Khanum, the team's best defender, spoke to AFP between sessions in a tough fitness workout at Lahore's Punjab stadium.

"Getting the national colours was my childhood dream. I am going to India to make a do-or-die battle for my nation and prove that Pakistani girls can do whatever women do in other countries," she said.

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