A young footballer from Jammu and Kashmir was among the prominent figures to discuss fitness with Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier today. Afshan Ashiq (26) was in the company of fitness icons and sportspersons like Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, and actor-model Milind Soman, at the virtual conference conducted as part of the ‘Fit India’ movement’s first anniversary. The dialogue focused on health, nutrition and fitness, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The young footballer first came into the limelight, when a picture of her pelting stones on security guards in Srinagar, went viral in 2017. Afshan told the media that the incident took place when she was heading to a government school with her team of girls, for football practice.
When they spotted a bunch of boys stone-pelting the police, they stood there. A police official mistook one of the girls to be involved in the attack and slapped her, and that’s when the girls reacted. This is how Afshan’s photo was all over social media.
An inspirational journey
Afshan is now the captain of Kashmir’s women’s football team and also coaches other girls, empowering them to become professional sportswomen. Besides, she is also a goalkeeper for a club in Mumbai.
During the virtual conference, Afshan shared all about her fitness regime, and how mental and physical health go hand in hand. One of her biggest inspirations is former Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni, who is known for his calm and composed demeanour.
“I have learned a lot from him. He operates very calmly be it as a captain or as a player. I try to do the same. The way he works in his life, I believe everyone should function the same way to keep the mental stress under check. Such practices help in keeping the day-to-day jobs stress-free," she told PM Modi.
"What you have done in your career, you've become an inspiration for girls all over Kashmir and India. Following you, many girls will come forward, seeing you as an example," the Prime Minister told Afshan on the occasion.
(Edited by Athira Nair)