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Defying Threats, Iraqi Women Play Ball

Posted May. 17, 2005 22:46,   


These girls are players on the first female Iraqi softball team, “Baghdad,” which was formed a year ago. Only a few years ago, when Saddam Hussein was in office, playing softball was forbidden in Iraq because it was viewed as a “product of U.S. imperialism.” However, at present, a total of six teams are competing in a league tournament across the country on weekends.

Every day except weekends, Jassem and other players wear half-sleeve uniforms after taking off their chadors on field. They receive intensive training starting with gymnastic exercises and shuttle runs under the guide of their trainer, Ismail Khalil.

Coach Khalil said, “Although we have to use donated helmets, bats, and safety equipment from a neighboring country because we can’t afford otherwise, the players’ passion is soaring to the sky.”

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that they can devote themselves to training because they have to overcome the fear of dying at any time.

Because of the heat, they should train early in the morning or late in the evening, but kidnapping and terrorist attacks chiefly occur at around this time. In fact, it’s not rare that they be startled at the sound of gunfire and bombing while training.

Though the national baseball federation in support of the softball team takes the players back home, it’s not reliable enough.

Moreover, the players are sometimes are blamed and insulted for playing a sports game as women.

The 20 best female players will go to a training camp in July at the invitation of the U.S.

Ho-Gab Lee gdt@donga.com