• 30 Sep - 06 Oct, 2017
  • Shaniera Akram
  • Interview

I met Ebba around the time Wasim and I got married in England, and we instantly ignited a friendship that I am sure will last a lifetime. Ebba is the wife of ex-Pakistani cricketer Azhar Mahmood who is now the bowling coach for our national cricket team. But she is so much more than just Azhar’s wife. Ebba is an entrepreneur in the Public Relations (PR) sector, combined with being passionate about charity. What more could you want in a woman? She uses her professional PR background to help many charities establish themselves and reach their goals in helping causes and people who are less fortunate. Ebba Qureshi is a hands-on mother, a good friend to almost anyone who meets her and a dedicated twitter-lover. Hope you all enjoy this chat I had with my beautiful friend.

How did you and Azhar meet?

EQ: We met during the 1999 World Cup in London. I had gone to watch a match at the Oval like a normal spectator; he was on the field and came towards me where I was on the boundary and apparently saw me in the crowd. We never spoke then, but we actually met a few days later with friends in London, and he told me that he remembered me from that match at the Oval. We kept in touch over the phone, met if he ever was in the UK, and he finally proposed marriage a few months later.

Before you met Azhar, were you a mad cricket lover like most Pakistanis or did you grow to love the game?

EQ: Yes, I loved cricket. My whole family watched the game and therefore, I did too. I enjoyed it thoroughly. My whole family, like the whole world, were huge Wasim bhai fans and made sure we went to matches and supported the team when they came to England. However, my real love and understanding for the game started after I got married to Azhar. We both love the game and enjoy watching other matches together.

You have three beautiful children, do they love cricket also?

EQ: Massively – they are avid cricket fans. My eldest is now playing for Surrey County; she's an all-rounder and has learned to play by predominantly watching the game. The other two younger ones are getting there and don't understand why their friend’s fathers don't play cricket.

Who is Ebba in three words?

EQ: Passionate, goal-driven, and loud.

I haven't known you for long but we instantly hit it off. We have so much in common, for we’re both hands-on mothers, very supportive towards our husbands’ careers and have a PR background. Now, our kids are also growing up and your husband is travelling with the Pakistani cricket team. How do you manage these responsibilities, and what’s next for you?

EQ: Yes, I remember first meeting you and we certainly got on like a house on fire. I loved your passion and involvement in Wasim bhai’s life and the kids. Same applies with me. My career in PR had to take a step back at times due to the children and family responsibilities, so I put all my energy towards my husband’s career and our children. Now that Azhar has been going through the transition period from playing to coaching for the national team, I have had time to reflect and put more time in my career and the kids. I am now pursuing PR and marketing, looking to expand the client base I have and starting up my own business. With all this experience, the next step would naturally be to extend my expertise in the charity sector and work with a charity that holds the same passion and dedication as me.

If you worked as philanthropist full time, what cause would you be most passionately working for?

EQ: I believe any cause that helps someone rebuild their life is a good cause. We are immensely privileged and I am grateful to Allah for what he's blessed us with, so I want the same for others, especially children. I feel children suffer most in underprivileged circumstances, and as a mother, my heart bleeds for those that need help or attention. I would love to work for the betterment of children's livelihood whenever and wherever I can.

You are pretty prominent on social media, I often see you involved in tweeting during a cricket match and contribute to most current happenings in Pakistan. Does Azhar use social media as much as you do, and since you are also a Pakistani bhabi as well as a role model to many, how important do you think social media is to stay in touch with fans and followers?

EQ: Social media is a must in any field these days. Coming from a PR background means staying connected, live networking etc, which social media allows you to do. Twitter is quite vital for me and Azhar, both, for different reasons, even though I use it more actively than he because I have much more to say. I love the way people can instantly react to your status and have a live conversation, whether good or bad. I get to share the love people have for Azhar along with the occasional tongue in cheek humour for him sometimes.

Being a Pakistani bhabi means [getting] lots of admiration and love from people back home. I feel that somewhere down the line I can inspire or have some kind of positive impact on others – even if it’s nominal. And that is what social media allows you to do.

Do you ever miss Pakistan. If so, what do you miss most about not living here?

EQ: I never lived in Pakistan. I was born and brought up in Kuwait and went to visit family in Pakistan every three months. Now that I have children at school it's not that easy to visit so frequently. However, I miss Pakistan mostly because of the warmth people show. Particularly, the love and time they have for you; not forgetting the amazing food.

When you come to Pakistan, what are the three things you stock up on to take back home?

EQ: You will laugh when you get to know. I stock up on pan pasand sweets, Quice ice-cream soda syrup to make homemade Pakola and kurtas. •