Sadia Raza (centre), sister of roller hockey player Shahida Raza, who died in the capsizing of a migrant boat in Italy, attends her funeral, along with other relatives, in Quetta, Pakistan, on March 17 2023. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Family and friends attended the funeral on Friday of a Pakistani field hockey player who died in the capsizing of a migrant boat off the coast of Italy last month, a shocking death the impoverished Islamic nation. .

The boat in which Shahida Raza and 170 other people were traveling left the port of Izmir, Turkey, last month. On board were passengers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, among other countries, seeking a better quality of life in Europe. In rough seas the ship broke up off the Calabrian coast and Raza and at least 66 other people lost their lives in the incident.

Raza’s funeral and burial took place in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Balochistan province, a day after the body was repatriated from Italy with the help of the country’s foreign ministry.

According to the family, Raza tried to emigrate to Europe to find a good job and earn money to pay for the treatment of her disabled 3-year-old son so he could lead a normal life. The minor, who was not traveling with the athlete, suffered a brain injury as a baby and has part of his body paralyzed.

“He gave his life for his sick son,” said the athlete’s younger sister, Sadia Raza.

Television channels and social networks were filled with photographs of Raza wearing the national colors and of his sporting successes. But most of the people knew her after her death, as women’s sport is hardly broadcast on TV in Pakistan.

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