Shahida Raza performed on Pakistan’s nationwide soccer and subject hockey groups, however her athletic prowess didn’t make her wealthy or enable her to migrate to Europe legally.
That helps clarify why Ms. Raza, a mom of 1, was touring to Italy from Turkey final month on a ship with different financial migrants from Central Asia. Ms. Raza, 29, was one in all no less than 63 individuals who died when tough seas dashed the boat against rocks a couple of hundred yards from the Italian shore — agonizingly near the land the place she had hoped to begin a brand new life.
Ms. Raza had left her 3-year previous son, who’s partly paralyzed, along with her ex-husband in Pakistan earlier than beginning her harmful journey. However her household and buddies say her plan was to finally settle the boy in Italy, the place she hoped he would obtain higher medical therapy.
“She was deeply involved about his well being and needed him to have a standard life,” Saba Khanum, one in all her longtime soccer and subject hockey teammates, mentioned in an interview.
Ms. Raza was one in all no less than two Pakistani nationals who died within the Feb. 26 shipwreck off Italy’s Calabrian coast. Eighty folks survived, together with 17 of her compatriots. Pakistan’s International Ministry known as the crash an instance of “unscrupulous people” benefiting from financial migrants.
This week, Pakistani journalists descended on Ms. Raza’s family home in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, a vast, arid province within the nation’s southwest that borders Iran and Afghanistan. They discovered her room adorned with sporting medals and the green coat she had worn as a member of the nationwide subject hockey crew.
Quetta is residence to many individuals from the Hazara ethnic minority, a predominately Shiite group that has been focused by Sunni extremists in each Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some Pakistanis noticed Ms. Raza’s demise as emblematic of the hardships that the Hazara face within the area and the pressures they really feel to to migrate.
Others in Pakistan, a rustic the place skilled male cricket gamers are lavished with consideration and cash, lamented that Ms. Raza’s athletic success had not shielded her from tragedy.
“I want this nation would acknowledge and respect its athletes, its folks!” Hajra Khan, a former captain of the ladies’s soccer crew, wrote on Twitter. “Relaxation in everlasting peace, sister.”
Ms. Raza had performed on subject hockey groups representing Quetta, the capital of her residence province, and a number of other authorities companies, in line with Saadia Raza, her sister. She additionally represented her nation on many events, touring overseas six occasions for subject hockey and 4 for soccer.
Ms. Raza finally joined the Pakistani navy’s subject hockey crew, a job that got here with a military wage and enabled her to ship her son for therapy at a navy hospital, Ms. Khanum mentioned. However the military crew minimize her just a few years in the past as a result of she had refused to cease taking part in for different groups on the similar time.
The lack of the military wage left her financially weak and determined to seek out new medical doctors for her son, her sister mentioned. He suffers from mind accidents and is paralyzed on his left facet.
Across the center of final yr, Ms. Raza informed Ms. Khanum, her former teammate, that she was planning a visit to Italy as a result of she thought there could be higher take care of her son there and extra financial alternatives for herself.
The opposite migrants on the ill-fated boat journey from Turkey to Italy have been primarily from Afghanistan, but in addition from Iran, along with Pakistan, the authorities mentioned after the shipwreck.
Ms. Khanum mentioned that her former teammate had arrived in Turkey in early October. A number of members of the Hazara group in Ms. Raza’s hometown, the place she as soon as coached youth soccer, have settled in Australia. However Ms. Khanum mentioned that making the journey there had turn into dearer in recent times.
About an hour earlier than Ms. Raza was anticipated to succeed in Italy, she despatched just a few voice messages to her household and seemed to be in good spirits.
“She was continually thanking Allah that she had made it to Europe,” her sister mentioned. “She thought now her financial worries could be over.”
Then the messages stopped abruptly and by no means resumed.
After the migrants’ boat washed ashore in items, Italian information retailers confirmed a priest blessing the our bodies of the lifeless, hidden underneath white baggage. However Ms. Raza’s sister mentioned on Friday that the household was nonetheless ready to obtain her physique to offer her an Islamic burial.