Always a sportsperson at heart, Amna Tariq took to cricket when she saw an advertisement in daily newspaper. It was the selection by Kuwait Cricket board for their first ever women's cricket team. Little did she know what future had in store for her. She missed being part of the team due to study commitments but made her return and was soon selected to represent Kuwait. Fast forward 6 years, Amna is currently an all-rounder in the Kuwait women's cricket team and envisions a positive and steady growth for her team.
In an Exclusive Interview with the Female Cricket team, Amna tells about how cricket happened, what is Kuwait Cricket all about and where she sights it in another decade.
1) Tell us about your childhood and how cricket happened? What age did you first play cricket?
My Childhood has been filled with sports participation - be it athletics or basketball I was always playing a sport. I gave a try to every possible sport that came my way.
As for Cricket, There was a newspaper advertisement from Kuwait Cricket for selections to form a women's team few years ago and I decided to visit to see how it goes. At that point I was leaving Kuwait to pursue my higher studies and could not make it to the team. i was in touch with our Coach over the years and joined the team in 2013 when I got back to Kuwait.
2) What inspired you to take up cricket? Who were your role models?
I always loved the sport watching it on TV and supporting my favourite teams but never thought i would be playing it with so much interest down the years. once i started playing, i don't feel like doing any other sport. I look upto Kumar Sangakkara, Kane Williamson and Ellyse Perry in both Men and women's cricket respectively.
3) How did you get into the national team of Kuwait?
I came across a newspaper advertisement when the Women's team was about to be formed. I could not be a part of the team due to my study commitments and I joined the team once I got back to Kuwait. Our team coach told me about the possibility of us participating in an ACC tournament in 2013, that's when I had returned.
4) What is the selection procedure for being a part of the Kuwait National Cricket team?
Selection depends on various criteria's such as attendance to weekly practice sessions, fitness and skills.
Kuwait Cricket is working towards bringing in new talent and encouraging girls to take up the sport. it is a huge task with lots of efforts but it is being worked upon.
5) Where do you see the team in about another 7-8 years?
Playing the world cup - that is the ultimate goal for us. with the right guidance, a proper structure and commitment from the existing and new players, it is surely possible to achieve that. Being a non test playing country, that will be a great achievement for us.
6) How is the composition of the team in terms of batting, bowling and fielding?
We have some really talented girls who can play really good cricket. There is balance in each aspect in our team - be it batting, bowling or fielding. we just need to shape ourselves to be performing at our optimum best at any given situation and that will only come through rigorous practice and proper guidance.
7) Do you think the cricket in Kuwait is ready to be taken up as a full fledged profession?
Perhaps no as most of the girls who are playing currently are working or studying. we are all part time cricketers.
8) In which department do you think the team can be really competitive against the world's best?
Bowling. we have some really consistent bowlers who can pick up wickets and give a tough time to any opposition.
9) Since how many years have you been playing cricket professionally and what kind of difference do you see since your debut and today?
This is my 6th year. There has been a positive growth in the recent past and it is happening step by step - when I say this I mean for the first time our team had an equipment sponsor in the recent tournament that we participated. Our management is working towards bringing in more girls / women through talent hunts, allowing equal opportunities similar to what they provide to the boys / Men, having scheduled practice sessions, assessing fitness levels of players and so on. hopefully once everything is in place, it will be move towards a positive direction.
Girls are also allowed to participate in Men's domestic tournaments, school and junior cricket to enhance their confidence level. Interested players are placed in a few teams where there is opportunity for an entire season. This was not allowed earlier but was taken as a step towards women's development.
10) What is it that is holding back the team from coming up at the international level under the ICC?
Kuwait Women's were recently a part of the ICC Asia Qualifiers that was held in Thailand in February 2019. the results did not go our way and performance was not as per our expectations but it was a great learning curve. we have come back with a lot of positives and will work towards our weaknesses to be able to get some good results in the opportunities that will come our way in the future.
Our board put in the effort to get us on the international level which paid off and we are grateful to the ICC for allowing us such a big opportunity.
Nothing is holding us back, we just need more support from the ICC & ACC towards the associate nations, more cricket tournaments in a calendar year must happen for more development..
11) How far do you think captaincy can influence the Team's performance and atmosphere?
It can to a large extent. however a leader cannot execute anything without the rest of the 10 players. I believe its an overall team effort when it comes to performance and atmosphere but a leader can surely build the culture of having a positive and focused approach in performance, discipline and the overall atmosphere within a team.
12) Not many people see cricket in Kuwait as a profession. What made you go for it?
It is really the love and passion for the game. if you truly do, there's no second thoughts.
13) What changes do you think can revolutionise cricket in Kuwait?
Backing from the local Kuwaiti & expatriate community as in more girls from the country taking up the sport and very importantly government support. we have a few talented Kuwaiti girls who were a part of our team. We need to promote the sport just like we see Football or Basketball being promoted as a general sport in schools and clubs. it should start at that level, majority of the PT classes in all schools will always emphasis on Basketball, Football, volleyball etc but not cricket. If the sport is instilled at the early stages, only then we will see more girls expressing their will to take up to the sport as a profession.
14) How would you describe the team's atmosphere and attitude?
We have a brilliant set of girls, we are a united bunch helping each other out always.when on the field, the girls have a really positive attitude to go out for the win. Results do not always come out the way you want it to but they always go in with high spirits. This has led to us winning several games against under 19, under 16 & under 14 boys.
15) What are some of the major challenges faced with women's cricket in Kuwait?
Challenges have always been there and will continue because of the universal attitude towards Men & Women around the world not just in Kuwait. Our male counterparts always get priority over females. In the current situation all I can say is there needs to be equal focus, opportunities and time given to both from the controlling boards. Times are changing slowly but it is. We are hopeful that things will change for the best in the coming years.
16) If cricket had not happened, what else would have? Tell us about your other passions and interests?
I would be playing Basketball with the same commitment. That was my main sport before Cricket.
I am also a level 2 qualified umpire and a level 1 coach in Cricket.
I enjoy travel and photography, along with cricket these are the few things that make me happy.
17) What are your views on our platform Female Cricket? Any quick feedback / suggestions?
It's an amazing platform where people are really becoming aware of women cricketers from around the world. I never knew Brazil had a women's team until I saw the post from Female cricket. You guys are really doing the kind of job that we really need for our Women Cricketers - that is making people aware and drawing support and attention not just in a specific country but from around the world.
I hope Female Cricket grows stronger and stronger from here. Thank you for your work and encouragement because this adds up in making us stronger and pushes us to continue doing what we are.