All throughout her life, Erum Baloch knew that she was passionate about being a hockey player. She wanted to play for Pakistan on the national level. However, her dreams had to be put aside when her father passed away in 1992. Later, her brother passed away in 2015 in a terrorist attack – leaving her, responsible for being the bread winner of of the family.
In Pakistan, we don’t really have a culture where women are encouraged to play sports. Erum hails from Jacobabad, where women hadn’t even thought about playing hockey, let alone playing it outside.
After the passing of Erum’s brother, her friends encouraged her to coach female students who were interested in hockey. They they thought this would divert her mind and also benefit the students.
When Erum started, she realised that not much had changed since 1992. There were still no female coaches, no kits for the players and the hockey sticks they were given were also taken away after each match. The ground they were given had shrubs and dead grass all over it. Things weren’t looking great.
The players and Erum decided that they will fix things. They picked out the grass, cut the shrubs and levelled the ground themselves. Erum made sure they had proper equipment to play with and a safe place to play at. The parents of girls who’d never let them out, finally felt safe enough to send their daughters to play hockey!
Today, Erum coaches players that play on the national level and for the Pakistan Army teams.
All it took was one girl to decide that she was going to do something to help. Even if it took time out of her day, even if she had to juggle things with her exiting job. She did it all anyway. Erum literally changed the way girls lived in Jacobabad, they now have access to facilities they never had before and she is leading them to the success that was deemed impossible just a couple of years ago.
Erum single handedly brought change to Jacobabad, one hockey player at a time.