All in the game

All in the game

Women cricketers

All in the game
The ICC Women’s World Cup has shone the spotlight on the much-neglected field of women’s cricket in the country and this   newfound enthusiasm may just be the panacea to the ills that plague the sport. The women in blue have forced everyone to take notice but the situation is not great for the ones who venture into what is primarily a male bastion.

“There is no money for women players,” says Mamatha Maben, former all-rounder and skipper of the Indian women’s cricket team. “The players practice throughout the year, so they can’t have other jobs, but they have no monetary benefits to show for that. The BCCI is flush with funds and they can earmark some money for the development of this sport at the grassroots level.”

The emergence of women in sports in a country that still does not adequately respect them in daily life is doubly important and people like Debasmita Dutta and Vandana Mahajan are leading from the front, battling hurdles on the way.

“The match fees that we get is very less compared to our male counterparts. I know a lot of good women players who have dropped out because there was no money,” says Debasmita, who has played for the senior Karnataka women’s cricket team. It was her love for cricket that prompted the Meghalaya girl to move to Bengaluru. “I used to play gully cricket in my childhood. Later, I came for a summer camp to this city and after seeing the opportunities it had in sports, I stayed back for my sporting career.”

Childhood fascination and strong parental support are common themes.

“My male cousins have been responsible for instilling this interest in me since childhood and cricket has been my priority since then — over engineering, MBA, job, everything else,” says Vandana Mahajan, who has been a professional player since the last seven years. “However I always knew it would not give me the financial stability I needed so I focussed on my studies and job too.”

While coaches and players stress on the importance of having women’s teams at the school and college level, most colleges in the city do not have that option.

“Most colleges don’t have a women’s cricket team because there are few takers for it,” says Sajan George, physical education director, Jyoti Nivas College, who has coached the likes of Mithali Raj, Karuna Vijaykumar Jain, Nooshin Al Khadeer and more.

“The participation has to go up if we are to spot hidden talents and for this, students should come forward,” he says.

But there is a feeling of optimism and stakeholders vouch that the quality of professional training, the infrastructure and overall societal attitudes have improved.

“Women are being encouraged by their parents to take up this sport now and because of this change, the overall quality of the game itself has gone up,” says Mohammed Naseeruddin, from the Karnataka Institute of Cricket.

“Because of the World Cup and the way it was marketed, there has been a surge in the interest for this game. This is fuelled by social media, which is the biggest plus right now. The change is visible and positive, I myself have seen it in my girl students,” says Mamatha. Seems like it’s a women’s game too.

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