By Neelam Farzana
Cricket in England is a sport of the elite, in South Asia, it is the sport of the people. Followed with a ferocious passion by so many, mums, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties all gather round staring intently at the TV…but for many women in the Muslim community that’s where it ends.
Many of us have been fans of the great game for a long time but have never been given a real chance to actually play it here in the UK whether that be due to cultural influences or a lack of facilities. So imagine my jubilation when I heard of the opportunity to once again pick up my playing career at none other than the Lord’s, the home of cricket!
Over two Saturdays on May 15 and 22, the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation (MWSF) in conjunction with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) provided the opportunity for women and children of all ages to experience the facilities and atmosphere of the Lord’s Indoor Cricket School.
On entering the grounds the awe and excitement on the faces of those participating shone as brightly as the gloriously white, spaceship like media centre reflecting the sun’s rays. Greeted by England ladies international Isa Guha, and ex-international Laura Newton, the sessions catered perfectly to the needs of the Muslim community enabling women from all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy a fun family day out.
First time participant, Nabeela Akram attended with her two children aged 5 and 7. Commenting on the day she said, “It was a wonderful experience. I am a passionate follower of cricket but with two young children I never get the opportunity to actually play. Playing at Lord’s is an experience I will never forget and my kids absolutely loved it. I hope I get the chance again.”
MWSF Chairperson, Rimla Akhtar, said, “We are grateful to the MCC and ECB for enabling us to bring this event to our community at such a prestigious venue. This is one way of empowering ourselves, our women, and a strong way of providing opportunities to those who are often forgotten in the ethnic minority communities.”
Following on from the success of this event and due to popular demand, the MWSF will be working with the ECB to provide further opportunities for ethnic minority women to access cricket throughout the UK.
Anybody interested in getting involved should contact the MWSF on 020 8427 0873 or email firstname.lastname@example.org