She grew up in Jammu & Kashmir, juggling both her academics and cricket. Very early, she was introduced to cricket and spent most of her time learning the game. What started as a hobby, soon turned into profession and special mentions to Chaya Mughal’s family members for believing in their daughter’s dream. She always wanted to do something in cricket and her destiny brought her to UAE which led to a beautiful journey. A journey that she is very proud of and has given her enough memories to cherish. Female Cricket had a beautiful opportunity to interview Chaya Mughal. Excerpts from an interview below:
1. What drove you to cricket? Walk us through your initial cricket days?
I recall my memory of growing up by holding a cricket bat and waiting for my brother to bowl. It was the only game that I could play with my brother since he was a boy. As soon as I got hold of a bat I just wanted to smack the ball. I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity from my school to form a school cricket team which later got my serious attention and I adopted cricket as a solemn business.
2. Who were your cricket role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
Jonty Rhodes – One of the greatest fielders.
I always used to wonder, how a person can make the team win with just fielding. The way he was committed and dedicated for the team always forced me to work hard on my fielding.
3. How did you cope up with your studies / education / other commitments along with cricket?
What I believe is that “Nothing is Impossible “and of course it is worth trying. Something that you love to do, you can always find time for it. No matter how important my exams were, I managed sports and studies along well without getting tired and that’s the key.
4. Back then, how was cricket as a sport perceived by the society / hometown you lived in?
Hailing from Jammu and Kashmir it was quite obvious that the resources and assets were very few. There were not many opportunities back then and hence that platform or stage where I could prove myself as a cricketer was bit of a task. For me though it was a serious business but others considered it a mere pastime.
Also Read : About the First ever women’s T20 championship in Jammu and Kashmir?
5. What made you continue cricket ? Were your parents supportive of the idea?
The more I played the better I wanted to be. Looking at my seniors, I just wanted to improve myself and give them a tough competition. Watching cricket on TV and seeing so many things happening, I always wanted to do something different from others in my team.
My parents were very supportive and cooperative. I remember one incident where I had my pre-board exams and at the same time there was this North zonal championship. I told my parents to get the leave approval from my school which they did. They always trusted me and helped me both in cricket and studies. They got me a two-wheeler so that I could save my time to reach for both school and stadium. My father and my brother are also cricketers. My brother really helped me to improve my basics by practicing at home.
6. Walk us through your UAE cricket journey? When and how did this happen?
I came to Dubai in the year 2010 and I had no clue about the Women’s cricket in UAE. Being a cricketer I always wanted to play but could not find any room for myself. Later on one of my friend from my workplace told me about UAE women’s cricket team. I immediately went to Sharjah Stadium and met coach Hyder. He told me that the team was leaving to Oman for their first GCC women’s Twenty20 championship in December 2014 and once they are back I could join in for practice. Sir called me after they started their practice and that’s how I entered into UAE women’s cricket in the year 2015.
7. What was the general perception about women’s cricket in UAE when you started playing? How is it now?
Initially, I thought that people were not serious about the Women’s cricket happening in UAE. But gradually when the team started performing it came into an existence and people started recognizing UAE women’s cricketers. More and more girls started turning up and the competition bars were also raised. We started getting attention from everyone and hence cricket in UAE started flourishing.
8. You are a kindergarten teacher at the Ambassador School in Dubai and a cricketer. If you had to choose one, which role would you enjoy the most and why?
Well, I think it’s the most difficult question to answer amongst all. I enjoy both as it pleases me and gives me a mental satisfaction.
Cricket is of course my passion and cannot resist myself from playing. It’s indeed a bliss to be a cricketer as I love this format of game. The confidence and excitement of playing cricket is always the source for my endless motivation and social success. Cricket has taught me many lessons and the one I remember always is, ”A hero is someone who knows how to hang on one minute longer. This I, apply in all the walks of my life.
Teaching at the kindergarten level is the most responsible job as we are laying the foundations for future. Being a sports player, I include my play ways of teaching which in turn help the children to come out of their comfort zone and do something variably different. It gives me an immense pleasure and a sense of satisfaction when I see my children doing well later at their grade levels. In short both are the life-lines for me.
9. You have been in phenomenal touch with both bat and ball. What do you feel is still an area to work and improve on at a personal level?
It is always evident that developing better fitness levels improves cricketing performance. With that in mind, and with the focus on what my individual fitness needs are, I am definitely going to work on my fitness first along with the cricketing skills.
10. This was UAE’s first ICC tournament and the team has surprised everyone with their potential. How easy/difficult was the entire journey, right from the preparations to qualification stage?
I would neither say, it was a piece of cake nor I would say that it was a bed of roses; what I believe is that once you decide something nothing can stop you from reaching there.
It was a “one Team – one dream” as our motto and we all really worked hard to achieve it. Everyone was in for the practice sessions and we all practiced from 2 days in a week to 3 days and then 4 days to 5 days in a week. The whole team was pumped up as we all desperately wanted to qualify and we did.
Playing outdoors in hot and humid conditions especially during matches was bit of a task but all of us enjoyed every bit of it.
Playing in Thailand for the qualifiers was very special to each one of us. We beat China, Nepal, Hong kong, Malaysia and surprised everyone. Suddenly UAE was in the bigger picture from nowhere to somewhere. It was all the result of our hard-work that enabled us to qualify for our first ICC tournament.
11. How was it like making an international debut directly at the World Cup? Were you nervous or excited about the opportunity?
Playing cricket in UAE is always exciting and very special to me. Getting to play internationally that too qualifying for the World Cup was like a dream coming true to me. I can still feel the goose bumps when I recall that moment. I was nervous and excited at the same time. Nervous because it was our first international debut and excited because I was a part of it.
12. One moment from the qualifier series that you would always cherish?
Super Over – It was really a match worth watching. I can never forget that. Chasing a total of 146 runs against Netherlands, we managed to level the scores and got an opportunity to play the Super-Over, where UAE got the victory in a very intense situation.
13. You became the second highest run-getter from UAE after Nisha Ali by scoring 86 runs in 4 innings in the recently concluded ICC Qualifiers 2018.
I am very delighted about my contributions towards my team. This has enabled and motivated me to work hard in order to be consistent and reliable in future.
14. T20 World Cup 2018 Qualifiers could be a major turning point for women’s cricket in UAE. How do you and the team wish to capitalize on this momentum?
From desert to a cosmopolitan country, Women’s Cricket is flourishing in UAE day by day. T20 World Cup 2018 Qualifiers, has recognized the talent UAE women’s cricket has. I am sure we will be getting more opportunities to play and perform with multinational players to explore our hidden potential. I am sure the team along with me wanted to keep the momentum going on to come back strongly and qualify for the next World cup.
15. How was it like playing against more experienced sides like Bangladesh, Scotland and Ireland? What are the key learning from the series?
Playing against the elite teams is always an opportunity to prove yourself better.
No matter how hard the situation gets, understanding each other and trusting our ‘team mates’ matters the most. They may fail at times but backing them always will improve their moral strength. Of course there will be hard times or dark days but darkness is always followed by a sunrise. Likewise, just one success doesn’t takes you to top, constant progress is required.
16. You also enjoyed the opportunity to play with the teams like Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder. Tell us about your WBBL stint?
It was an amazing experience to play under the captaincy of one of the World’s best all-rounder “Ellyse Perry”. The way they plan their game and the way they conduct themselves on the field was worth learning. They enjoyed whatever they did and that’s what I have learnt from them.
17. UAE won 2 matches against the host Netherlands in the Qualifiers. But against which team did you enjoy playing the most and why?
I like playing against all the teams but playing against Netherlands was most cherished by me. Both the matches were high scoring games and there was an ample opportunity for everyone to perform. Most of their team had pacers which made it easy for me to score.
18. What next for the UAE women’s cricket team?
This tournament has opened many doors for the Women’s Cricket in UAE. We are aiming for the next World cup and working hard from now only.
19. Your views on Female Cricket as a platform?
Female Cricket is a beautiful initiative where women’s cricketers are recognized and brought in to the forefront of everyone. People have changed their perceptions and views because of so many things happening in Women’s cricket, the news of which is made available on Female Cricket. It’s a truly one of the best platform where people can recognize the upcoming players and identify their talents and know more about them.
I thank female cricket for giving me an opportunity to let myself known to others.