“We are a Muslim country and it was very difficult for women to choose cricket as a profession” says Nigar Sultana Joty

In a pivotal match in November 2023 against Pakistan, Bangladesh’s wicketkeeper-captain, Nigar Sultana Joty, made 54 runs to guide her side to 169, which was essential for Bangladesh to stay in the one-day series. With three overs left, Nigar’s run-out of Diana Baig put Pakistan at 153 for 7, putting them winning the series. It was the first of three key run-outs that would ultimately result in a drawn game.

"We are a Muslim country and it was very difficult for women to choose cricket as a profession" says Nigar Sultana Joty
“We are a Muslim country and it was very difficult for women to choose cricket as a profession” says Nigar Sultana Joty

Pakistan scored seven runs in the subsequent super over, thereafter Bangladesh needed two runs to win off the last ball. Nigar Sultana faced the pressure and bravely moved ahead, hitting Nashra Sandhu for a boundary over mid-off to level the series. Her performance served as a celebration as well as a demonstration of her talent.

Nigar Sultana’s acknowledged the challenges faced by women in a society where traditional norms often read out, in pursuing cricket as a profession. Her gratitude towards parents who went against societal expectations and supported their daughters in their cricketing endeavors reflects the courage and determination required to challenge cultural barriers.

As she states, “Initially, it was not that good because we are a Muslim country and it was very difficult for women to choose cricket as a profession… But I should thank all the parents.”

Nigar Sultana’s reflection on the significance of their team’s first major achievement mentions the sparking revolution of hosting the women’s T20 World Cup later this year, which has made cricketing a socially acceptable sport for its female citizens. This highlights the transformative power of success, inspiring not only her team but also the entire nation, to embrace the potential of women’s cricket.

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Sultana’s recounting of the adversities she faced, reflects the resilience and courage required to pursue one’s dreams in the face of skepticism and negativity. Her emphasis on the difficulties encountered by parents in supporting their daughters’ aspirations sheds light on the societal constraints that women in sports often face.

As she mentions, “For me, it was very, very tough… People would say so many negative things… The hardest part was for parents to be willing to let their girls play out their dream.”

Nigar Sultana’s words capture the essence of resilience in the face of adversity. Her message of unwavering belief and determination serves as the importance of perseverance and fighting spirit, even in the most challenging circumstances.
As she states, “Just keep believing in yourself, and with every ball, just fight for it. We are not going to lose until we lose.”

Sultana’s acknowledgment of the influence of established players like Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, and Jemimah Rodrigues highlights the role of role models in inspiring her team’s young players and the power of representation and visibility in driving participation and growth in cricket.

Nigar Sultana’s ask for the expansion of women’s cricket through initiatives like the Women’s Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) demonstrates her commitment to building opportunities, her emphasis on the potential of such tournaments to inspire participation and provide financial support as well, underlines the importance of investment in women’s cricket development.
She stated, “If we could have a women’s BPL, it will inspire a lot of women to take up the sport.”

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Sultana’s leadership, characterized by fortitude reflects her inclusive approach to team dynamics. By positioning herself as a fellow teammate rather than a superior, she builds a culture of collaboration and mutual respect, contributing to the team’s success both on and off the field. She highlights the importance of fostering a positive team environment.

Nigar Sultana mentioned, “I keep everything simple. I’m not your captain, I’m just your colleague… If you maintain a good culture off the field, it will have an effect on the ground.”

(Quotes sourced from ESPN)

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