Barriers are also opportunities that call some courageous ones to find the power within themselves to break them down into specks. Quite so often the courage comes from the least expected corners. Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) is fortunate to experience such a phenomenon, when a young lady broke the proverbial “Glass Ceiling” by acquiring the “Level 3 – Tournament
Administrator and Referee Seminar Certification” to become the second Pakistani, first being the honorable Col. Zahid Iqbal (Retd), to earn the qualification and the first ever woman to enter the territory dominated by men.
Munazza Shaheen, outshone herself by becoming the first “Woman TARS Rules Official”. She is now fully qualified to conduct golf tournaments at the National and International level. She has also created history by becoming the only person in Pakistan and amongst a few in the world to clear all three levels within a very short span of 12 months. She cleared level 1 with a 100%, level 2 with a distinction and level 3 with a merit. Her astounding success has left many in awe.
In this age of specialization, certification is now imperative to attain a professional level in Golf. Pakistan Golf seems to lag behind in this most important area. There is a shortage of qualified referees. Till date there are 8 men who are level 2 qualified and only one gentle man is level 3 qualified. Unlike other degrees, Golf Certification needs to be refreshed every four years, as the Rule Book is updated and Rules are evolved and modernized. Munazza has acquired her certification on the latest Rules Book, 2023 Rules of Golf, hence the only person in Pakistan that has a qualification up to date.
Ladies Golf in Pakistan has experienced an unparalleled growth within the span of few years. Munazza’s unprecedented achievement has given it a new paradigm. Although the PGF has been in forefront in encouraging and financially facilitating enthusiasts to acquire and refresh the certification to stay abreast with new Rules, there has been hardly any progress in this area. However, Munazza has become the trail blazer in the domain of certification.
All praise to PGF for taking a professional approach, measuring up to international standards and recognizing Munazza’s achievement in a befitting manner by appointing her the Tournament Director of the prestigious 62nd National Amateur Golf Championship 2023 with participation of international teams.
The PGF has played a pivotal role in supporting Munazza, by promoting, guiding and providing the administrative and financial support to achieve the bewildering success. She showed her gratitude to PGF and thanked Lt. Gen. Qazi, the President, Brig Akram, the Secretary and the PGF EC Members. She also promised her undivided loyalties to PGF and vowed to train and guide those who are passionately desiring to tread the arduous path.
Accolades and appreciations were received from a number of international golf officials around the globe, that too with such high grades. “Please congratulate Munazza from my side. It’s a great achievement for a Pakistani lady to pass this very difficult exam. Now she must gain practical experience to become more confident and assertive to become a good rule official.
“I knew of her case because the Captain of the R&A Clive Brown mentioned her, in a very good light, to me last week at the WAAP in Singapore. Well done. I must meet her and guide her. I shall also try to get her to referee at some of our APGC matches so that she and Pakistan get the due acknowledgment,” said President APGC Taimoor Hassan.
“Here in Thailand, Dr. Shami, our emphasis is on encouraging golfers to go for certification in golf rules. This certainly improves the quality of game, also the players are trained to be able to participate at the International Level, with better understanding of golf rules. Your quest for improving women golf in your country is paying dividends. A Level 3 certified woman rules official is the ultimate achievement. This is more than a ripple in your Golfing community.
“You will see how your girl’s certification will encourage other girls to attempt it. This single achievement of yours will silently revolutionise golf in Pakistan. PGF is fortunate to have such passionate golfers with exceptional organisational skills; hardworking golfers like Munazza. Cherish this rewarding moment Doctor, it is precious. God Bless you and your Country, that you love so much,” said Rae Vadee T Suwan Pioneer of Queen Sirikit Cup and Secretary-General c/o Thailand Ladies Golf Association.
On this enthralling success, Munazza mentioned the role of those who were there to support. She thanked her family and mentioned, “Nothing can be achieved alone.” Dedicating her certification to her mentor, Dr. Asma Afzal Shami, ex-chairperson Ladies Golf, she said, “Dr Asma was the one who dreamt, guided and provided the springboard to make it all possible. Her sincerity of purpose and strong will helped me keep my eyes on the target. To never lose sight of the Green Flag! It is because of torch bearers like her that such triumphs see the light of the day.”
Munazza is now the most qualified Rules Official in Pakistan. Her aim is to not only to referee the calendar matches here in Pakistan but also represent the country in international tournaments and championships. She has certainly earned a great honour for Pakistan amongst the international golfing community.