An Australian Awards Alumni and recently named in the 2018 Muslim Women in the Sports Power list as one of the 30 most influential Muslim women in sport in the world, Aisha Jalil is bringing normality for driving gender equality and women empowerment on the cricket fields in Pakistan.
Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan her very first cricketing experience was playing with her three brothers in the streets and grounds of Karachi. Aisha was a bowler and tail-end batswoman for Pakistan’s first women’s international cricket team. She also went on to play as an opener for the team. She represented Pakistan in a tour of New Zealand playing against Australia and New Zealand in 1997.
She recalls: “I was 16 years old and wanted to join the cricket team. But most of my family were against me playing cricket at an international level. However, one of my uncles supported me and helped me realize my dream of playing for Pakistan. Later, I got the blessing from the rest of my family too”. She further added “I didn’t even have my own cricket kit to take with me and had to take my older brother’s kit”.
Aisha then stepped away from playing with the national women’s team to pursue her education and went on to complete her Master in Business Administration in 2003 at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology. But, the exuberance in her veins for cricket never washed away.
In 2009, Aisha received an Australia Awards Scholarship to complete a Master of Management in Sports from the University of Technology, Sydney. Then she started working as a project manager at ILEAD. She developed a fundamental sports skills program along with her team at ILEAD. While addressing media she said “I believe that my knowledge in sports management was a good mixture of experience-sharing and academic content”.
“My classmates in Australia were from all around the world. You bring those experiences and their expertise back with you, and that really helps you learn and implement various strategies”, says Aisha.
She initially applied for the General Manager of Pakistan Cricket Board but didn’t get selected, yet she continued making efforts. Due to her unceasing efforts she is now serving as the Assistant Manager at Pakistan Cricket Board even though she had to face a few Yorkers and some nasty bouncers in her way.
Aisha aims to further develop women’s cricket in Pakistan, starting from grassroots and going beyond match victories. She also aspires to work for international men’s cricket operations in Pakistan to help break through attitudinal barriers.