Cricket is not just a sport or something which can be a career option or a passion. Cricket is an emotion, a complete direction in itself towards a new development and something which possesses the ability to change lives, fulfil dreams and in itself is the greatest motivation. And women’s cricket being the wind that delivers passion to profession and ideas to revolution.
Cricket begins in the gullies and takes one to its greatest wonders. But reaching there is just not a piece of cake and therefore making the roots of each cricketing body is so important in order to ensure that one’s country gets the best players. And the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has made sure that they work on the very grassroots level.
Six months ago, the ECB had mentioned about their very ambitious South Asia Engagement Plan that listed eleven key features out of which one was to expand the female coaching network. Six months after unveiling their plan, the ECB has managed to get the massive funds from Sport England. Sport England, a non-departmental public body that comes under the department of Digital, Culture, Media and sport has promised the ECB a huge amount of funding of £1.2 million (USD 1.54 million). The funds will be allotted in training and mentoring 2000 south Asian female coaches to facilitate better training and mentoring for the aspiring female cricketers and to encourage more and more young girls to take up cricket as a profession and see it as a really valuable and growing field. The South Asian action plan was initiated to transform the way cricket is connected with the British South Asian communities.
Sport England will also support the delivery of All-Stars cricket, ECB’s entry-level-cricket programme for five-eight year olds in seven cities namely- Birmingham, Bradford, London, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester and Nottingham. This will not only create opportunities but will also act as role-models for the youngsters and reflect to them the perks of being professional cricketers.
When it comes to playing for one’s country, it is important that each community is given equal opportunities and the officials take up initiatives to make sure they facilitate every part of the country to the best of their abilities to extract the best. And it is very crucial and justifiable much to attract young girls from diverse range of backgrounds because talent is pervasive. The main objective of this grant is to establish a really strong network of women coaches and to strengthen the existing networks.
This expansion of the female volunteer network will help in extracting better talent and also encourage young girls to see cricket as a profession beyond just passion. This move will accelerate the growth and development of women’s cricket giving not only England but women’s cricket a really promising bunch of cricketers and cricket some safe hands to reside in. This reflects the amount of dedication showed by the ECB towards the growth of women’s cricket and Sport England who made sure not a single stone is unturned in the process of this growth.
This grant was celebrated at a special community event in Leicester with former England champion Graeme Smith, Oti Mabuse, the former leading English bowler Isa Guha, and students from some local schools. A women’s cricket and bollywood dance session was organized, a 90-minute fitness session which is a fusion of cricket bollywood dances and cricketing skills and the stars joined women from around Leicester in the same. Amna Rafiq, the Leicester County Cricket Club Community Engagement Officer strongly believes that the South Asian population deserves to be understood and that their heritage is meant to be respected and that it is very crucial for them to get a friendly environment and the best of mentoring so that their self confidence is increased and the best out of them is bought.
Some additional progress of South Asian plan includes:
- Leyton Cricket Club in East London is chosen as the first pilot venue for the new Urban Cricket Centres, designed to provide cricket in urban areas.
- The establishment of 58 non-turf pitches and improvisation of 14 turf pitches in 2018 in major cities.
- The ECB T20 City Cuphas to reach 16 cities now.
When it comes to representing one’s nation, it is important to deliver the best version on oneself but that is only possible when equal and fair chance is given to each section of the community to express themselves and prove why they are meant to be chosen. This move by ECB and grant from Sport England is surely going to come as a great boost not only for English cricket but for cricket as a whole.