1. A very good column about the Pakistani national women's cricket team currently preparing for World Cup qualifying to happen this month. The writer, who spent time with the team as they trained, recounts the obstacles they face as female athletes in an Islamic country. Many of the players receive marginal support from their families, especially male relatives who do not find athletics for women appropriate. Additionally, there is no team sponsor (because there is no television coverage) and there is no television coverage (because there is no team sponsor). Other problems include a lack of senior players because women, after marrying in their mid-20s, leave the team; lack of money to keep up with fitness in the off-season; and players balancing cricket with schooling. But President Musharraf seems intent on increasing opportunities that can emancipate women. And cricket falls under that category. Whether that desire will be enough to overcome the many cultural obstacles currently faced by the team, we don't know yet.
2. Also being encouraged to get active are women in Iran, some of whom are taking up rugby. The article has great pictures worth checking out. Though there are dress requirements, they do not seem to impede the women too much. Also, they compete against teams with similar dress.
3. Germany has been awarded the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. Should be exciting given that Germany will host as the reigning champions. They were chosen over Canada.
4. From the "It would have been better earlier rather than later" Department: Canadian former hockey player Cassie Campbell was recently inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. She is the first female hockey player to be inducted. How that is possible is beyond me. But Campbell is certainyl deserving of the honor. She has been a national team member since 1993 and accumulated 16 gold medals in international competition over the course of her career. She is currently doing broadcast work covering NHL games.