Saira Abdul Sattar unhappy with NWFP move

As one of Pakistan's bright young hopes in female squash, the 19-year-old Saira Abdul Sattar is against the ban by the local Islamist government on male coaches. Her coach is the world's former No. 2 player.

"I don't support it all," Sattar said of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) cabinet announcement in May prohibiting men from coaching sportswomen.

"How could I? My coach is Muhibullah Khan," she said, referring to the former world number two, who is brother and coach of former top-seeded world player Jansher Khan.

Sattar's dilemma echoes that of scores of female athletes in the conservative province, where sexes are usually segregated and many families prohibit daughters from sport because they do not want them to be exposed to men.

"There is an attitude among society and families that it's no good to be coached by a male. My family is quite harsh with me about having a male coach," she said. The ban, only partially enforced by the ruling Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance of radical Islamic parties, has won mixed responses.

Most of Sattar's co-players are against it, citing the paucity of female coaches in North Western Frontier Province, but there are plenty who appreciate it and seek full segregation in sport.

"In Peshawar, male coaches don't do their job properly when they're coaching girls, they get distracted," said Sadia Khaled, an athlete who represents NWFP in tournaments across Pakistan.