A Sports Enthusiast From A Young Age, Now The Only Female To Own A Bat Company
Cricket, in the hearts of Indians, had always had a very special place. People love watching a good match of cricket and watching it with friends and family makes it even better. The sport has grown on Indians so much, it has become a very big industry. Almost everyone has picked up a bat or a ball at one point in their life. But the work that goes behind all the equipment is not something that interests many.
40 year old Rifat Masoodi from Kashmir, however, has a keen interest in bats, perhaps because she is the only female owner of a cricket bat manufacturing company. The company was established by her father-in-law in the 1970s but he had to give it up because of lack of customer post-insurgency in the 1990s. In 1999, Rifat decided to restart the business on her own and she hasn’t looked back since.
Big Dreams Of A Teenage Girl
Rifat was 21 years old when she realized that the market for Kashmiri products was open now. Things weren’t the same as they were a few years back and people were starting to show interest for Kashmiri products. Her vision took her on a path and she chose to rebuild the company that her father-in-law had left. But things weren’t easy for her at the beginning.
“In the beginning, people, including women, used to dislike my business venture. But when they realised Kashmir needed business beyond tourism, apples and apricots, they agreed that there was no problem with cricket bats and women making them,” says Rifat to the Times of India. Now she gets customers from all around the country.
Life As A Businesswoman
Rifat takes her company very seriously and works hard to attract customers for her cricket bats. The bats are made out of willow wood, found in Kashmir in abundance. But business isn’t always easy. Her competitors are very harsh and she has to struggle constantly to make sure she doesn’t lose her customers to them. She wishes that one day the Indian cricket team would use her bats.
She lets wholesale customers stay for free in her family’s home and treats them as guests. Her husband, Shauqat, and her two children support her fully and help her out whenever they can. Shauqat was a forest department employee who became a full-time football coach. Sports seem to run through her family’s blood.
A Tough Environment
“It is a myth that Kashmiris support only Pakistan when there is a cricket match with India. I love Indian players. It is a sport; people may have their preferences among players from both countries. In fact, when we started in 2000, it was Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar who inspired me. But that does not mean one can’t like a good Pakistani fast bowler,” she says. Although Kashmir is a land of violence and radicalism, she goes on with her work with her utmost dedication.
Although other firms that make cricket bats give her a really tough competition and she makes a fraction of their income, she still has the passion to keep on making bats. It is refreshing to see that in a place where such violence prevails, there are people who are dedicated to their passion and their craft and try to find a place for themselves with their work.
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