Inspiration

No Hour of Life Spent in the Saddle is Wasted!

Tent pegging, an ancient cavalry sport, can be traced back many centuries. It was included as an official sport by Asia’s Olympic Council in 1982 and was officially recognised by the International Equestrian Federation in 2004. Tent pegging is undoubtedly a challenging sport requiring tremendous precision as well as skilfulness of picking wood with a lance. Entwined deeply into the fabric of cultural festivity, the art of tent pegging has always been a top-ranked traditional equestrian sport. The adventurous sport enjoys great popularity in Pakistan, particularly kept alive by Punjab and the Northern region.
We cannot talk about tent pegging alone without mentioning the National Horse and Cattle Show, which is a mega cultural event of Pakistan and I am certain all our readers must surely be aware of it. Unfortunately, we witnessed a loss of support for tent pegging; the cultural event was long forgotten and faded in the sands of time. Recently, Punjab has revived the lost glory of this sport, where we can experience the fearlessness of players from across Pakistan. It is definitely a sight worth seeing!
Pakistan’s first woman tent pegging player, who proudly dons the cap of CPCAB Psychotherapist, USA certified Montessori Coach, and last but not the least, a life coach, Tehreem Fatima is a role model for not only our women tent pegging players but every female who aims to be an achiever. 
Tehreem Fatima played in the National Tent Pegging Championship in 2019; she profoundly inspires new female players to play in this male-dominated game for the revival of the historic sport of cavalry in Pakistan. Tehreem formed her first women’s team who played at the national level and she aims at representing her motherland with her team at the international level in the near future.
Hilal for Her talked to Tehreem Fatima about her inclination towards tent pegging and her family’s reaction to her daring choice as well as her achievements and aspirations.
When did you fall in love with tent pegging, and what/who inspired you to take it up professionally? 
I am adventurous and energetic, so when I played tent pegging it was like a lost love was found. When one sits on a saddle, the horse becomes your extension. The horse acts according to your energy and vibe, so to be a better rider and to bond with my horse, I have to work on myself. It helps me see my weaknesses and strengths, which make me a better human being, so I would say the sport itself inspired me a lot. 
As far as my family’s reaction is concerned, my father was very supportive and I had never been discriminated at home when it came to opportunities given by my father to his children. Participating in healthy activities and sports was always encouraged at home. He never kept me locked at home just because of my gender. He taught me how to protect myself and carve a niche in this world, where and when needed. When Hazrat Zawaar R.A was imprisoned, his sister Khola fought alongside Hazrat Khalid Bin Waleed to set her brother free. So, I believe as Muslims, we should raise our daughters not only strong, but independent and self-reliant as well.
You are Pakistan’s first woman tent pegging player; you have defied stereotypes about hijab. How do you feel about it? 
The word hijab and its concept have been manipulated by the West where it is associated with oppression and poverty, but it is my hijab that actually makes me feel liberated. It helps me feel protected and convey my boundaries when I go out in public to play in front of thousands of men. I do not understand why it is stereotyped. I believe hijab is not at all an impediment and we ourselves have made this a restriction. I feel empowered when I gallop on my horse in hijab.
Most sports activities are meant to have an overall effect on the sportsperson’s personality; what does the game do for you?
This game is all about balance. It is like I have embraced chaos and I am more focused and calculated now. Therefore, I would say, it has taught me balance, leadership, focus, teamwork, dedication, and most importantly, resilience in every situation of life I encounter.
What are some of the problems that need to be addressed to make more gains in tent pegging in Pakistan? 
Nowadays, we can witness the fact that the nature of sports has changed and it is no more an art but science. But regrettably, in today’s age and time, while our counterparts are better-equipped than us, we are trying to win with bows and arrows. We cannot even qualify for the Olympics, let alone win medals for our country, all due to the dismal state of sports infrastructure in the country where the sports facilities are inaccessible to a huge 94 percent of youth. We, as a sports-crazy country, have been unsuccessful in introducing a single world-class sports academy to nurture the talent of our younger generation.  There is a dire need to discover our unsung heroes in a country blessed with greatly gifted and talented people. Although, our media channels have the ability to highlight that potential, it goes beyond misfortune that we stay largely and entirely limited to cricket, which is not how our hidden stars need to be treated. Even though Pakistan has the capacity, but structural overhauling is the need of the hour. 
How do you think this sport will get the recognition and support it deserves?
Tent pegging is played mostly in villages, where it is managed by the community of horse riders. There are merely two or three big events conducted, but are not given media coverage and promotion.
I wish to start a horse riding school, especially for women, where women can get training in their own comfort zone because our needs differ in terms of training and guidance from that of men. In this way, women can play more efficiently in both national and international championships. We need sponsors and media campaigns for the promotion of this significant equestrian sport as well as motivate more girls to take up tent pegging as a passion and career.
How do you feel about the disparity between being known as a ‘tent pegger’ versus a ‘woman tent pegger’? 
Tent pegging is a male-oriented sport. This sport had just been played by men for years and it is unusual for people seeing a woman playing this deadly sport in front of a crowd of men. I play this game for my own sake and not to fight men; there is no competition. The competition is only on the ground, so I do not mind being called a ‘woman tent pegger’; I take it as a compliment.
Please share an inspiring message with aspiring girls who also wish to join tent pegging.
I want to give a message to youth, especially girls that they can pursue whatever they want if it is confined within the boundaries set by Allah (SWT). You can do it! You can achieve whatever you put your mind to. If you are passionate, then your passion and resilience will drive you towards your goal. Allah (SWT) will definitely be your number one supporter and ally, if you set your heart to fight for the right.
I have the honour of being the first female tent pegger of Pakistan by God's grace and now I want to support and uplift those girls who wish to start tent pegging. I welcome you all!
Women are often seen only as housewives or caretakers, but women like Tehreem Fatima refute this banal mind set. Nowadays, women are working and doing well in their chosen passions and careers, and that is what Pakistan is doing; it is empowering its women to be better and achieve greater. Pakistan celebrates its women and Islam also gives utmost importance to the gender, which is wrongly portrayed as a marginalised segment of the society. Pakistan is proud to represent women who have made a name for not only themselves but have made their nation proud through their sheer determination and strength of character. Hilal for Her  is proud to support such inspiring women and dedicate our magazine to our wonder women. HH


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