Charvi Bhatt, former captain & national player of UAE Women’s Cricket, in an interview with Female Cricket throws some light on the existing UAE Cricket structure, how has it evolved in the last few years and some of the key areas to focus in the coming future. Having played cricket at the highest level, Charvi clearly understands the strength and challenges and the need to develop UAE Cricket. Charvi envisions a strong and positive growth for UAE Cricket. Female Cricket wishes her all the best.
1. When and how did Cricket emerge in UAE? When did women’s cricket pick up in the country?
In 2006, there was a first ever inter school double wicket and 6-a side tournament that took place in the UAE, for a few schools that could put together girls who were interested and wanted to play the game. This initiative was bought about with a long term view of developing the game in the years to come in the region. In May 2007, the ACC had sent in a development officer, to conduct a week long hunt to find young girls who were interested in playing the game professionally. We were told that a national side will be selected for an international tournament to happen sometime in July in the same year in Malaysia. Its been 10 years to that day, Women’s cricket in the UAE has come a long way since then. If you’s ask when the game really picked up, I’d say it has picked up in the past 5-6 years with domestic leagues taking place regularly, and international tournaments every year, giving the girls maximum opportunity to play cricket all year round.
2. Vision and Goals setup for UAE women’s Cricket? How much has been achieved?
The ultimate goal for any national cricket team, is to get a top ranking and play the world cup. With the same goal for the UAE women to play the world cup soon, and to gain ODI/ T20 status, the setup domestically aims at not only giving opportunities to current players, but also a platform for younger girls to take up the game and develop their skills. Since the initiation of the setup, a lot of buzz has been created, and we can say that every tournament has helped find a new talent, and with more interested girls to play the game. Starting with only 11-12 girls, we are now at about 55 girls who play professional level cricket in the region. With, support and efforts put forward by the Emirates Cricket Board, we have come a long way.
3. Highlight 3 main achievements since it’s inception.
1. Gulf cup winner 2014 hosted by Oman, with 4 Gulf countries participating Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE.
2. Gulf cup winner 2015 hosted by Qatar, with 3 Gulf countries participating Oman, Qatar, and UAE.
3. Women’s International T20 runner’s up 2016 hosted by UAE, with 7 teams participating Kenya, Uganda, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, and UAE.
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4. Who are the driving force of UAE women’s Cricket and how have they contributed so far?
The driving force would definitely be the players, who have contributed towards bringing cricket in the UAE for the women this far by their dedication, commitment, and hard work. And not forgetting the on going support in taking care of our needs on and off the field the Emirates Cricket Board.
5. Highlight if there are any upcoming tours and tournaments?
Internationally, we aren’t aware of anything that will be happening soon, but domestically yes we are currently having our first league of the season. And more such cricket has been planned for the rest of the year.
6. How has T20 UAE Women’s Cricket Tournament last year impacted the overall cricket scene there?
It was the first time that UAE was hosting a tournament for women. This not only attracted the younger audience, but we got to see a lot of adults who come in to support the team. There has been a considerable increase in participation from girls from different parts of the region, who are showing great interest in the game.
7. Name all the women’s cricket club / teams in UAE right now:
Name of the Club
1. G Force Cricket Academy
2. GM Cricket Academy
3. Desert Cubs Cricket Academy
Captain / Head
1. Nisha Ali
2. Humaira Tasneem
3. Esha Oza
1. Dubai/ Sharjah
3. Dubai/ Sharjah
8. What is the selection process (pathway), eligibility criteria to represent the National team?
Firstly, to be eligible to represent the national team, you need to be a resident in the country for a minimum of 2 years, as we are all expats. The performance of each player is evaluated during the domestic leagues, from which the top 25 – 30 girls are chosen and called in for a month long national camp, after the top 15 are selected.
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9. Are there any campaigns at school/grassroots level to spread awareness about the game and get locals to play cricket?
Currently, there are only 1 or 2 schools promoting cricket for women at the grassroots level. I’m guessing this is because, of the initiatives taken up by the ECB and the clubs. There have been efforts in the past to spread awareness about the game, and to get locals to play but recently none of that has been happening.
11. What would be that one thing required to take female cricket in UAE to the next level?
There needs to be a structure that needs to be followed regularly, which is happening now. To take cricket to the next level, you need new players to be interested, and for that talent hunts, etc. would have a to take place. A dedicated team of current and past players, willing to give sometime towards an initiative like this, will help take UAE women’s cricket to another level.
12. One message you would like to pass on the budding female cricket enthusiasts.
Cricket is a wonderful game, which teaches you life lessons, helps you become a better person. Take all that it has to give you, trust the game and most importantly enjoy it! The game by itself will take you places.
13. Your views on Female Cricket as a platform.
Female cricket in my opinion is a great platform, for women cricket enthusiasts to share their views and opinions about the game, etc. I strongly feel, Female cricket will help take cricket for women to a whole new level.
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