Women’s cricket in Mumbai will have a new tournament beginning March 2016.
A 40-over tournament featuring eight sides is to be introduced by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).
PV Shetty, joint secretary of Mumbai Cricket Association, said:
“There are not many tournaments for women. And, we have just one inter-school tournament. To give importance to women’s cricket and encourage it, we are going to get them involved in club culture. Our president Sharad Pawar backs women’s cricket big time. Even the new BCCI president Shashank Manohar is a keen promoter of women’s cricket.”
The Cricket Improvement Committee suggested the initiative which was then immediately ratified by the Managing Committee.
“We have a slot in March, hence that could be the time we might host it. We have decided the eight teams. We have chosen teams that promote the game big time in the city like Sainath CC, Payyade SC, DY Patil CC, Shivaji Park Gymkhana, Karnataka Sporting Association and Sind CC besides others. We will see that all the areas of Mumbai is covered.
We will first see how it goes. There are around 200-250 women who play serious cricket. If there are more players taking interest, we will definitely increase the number of teams.”
There are not many woman cricketers because there is no job prospect. Railways is the only organisation that offers jobs. Parents don’t let them play if there is no job. We would also like to create job opportunities for them by talking to corporates and introducing inter-office tournament.”
Kalpana Murkar, legendary Dronacharya award-winning coach Ramakant Achrekar’s daughter, said:
“This will be a good opportunity for youngsters. At the junior level, there is an inter-school tournament which is yet to be held this season. Even the inter-college tournament is yet to take place. We used to have a club tournament under Bombay Women’s Cricket Association when women’s cricket was not merged with BCCI. However, this opportunity will be fantastic.”
The tourney will be a shot in the arm for women’s cricket in the city.
This year, the first-ever All India women’s inter-university cricket tournament almost did not take place with three of eight venues refusing to host the matches.
Parsee Gymkhana, Islam Gymkhana and PJ Hindu Gymkhana were the truant clubs.
Islam Gymkhana manager Hanif Shaikh said :
“On November 18, we received the letter from MCA informing us about the tournament and within three days we wrote back to them about our inability to host matches. As it is the wedding season, the ground is occupied on all dates and hence unavailable for the tournament.”
PJ Hindu Gymkhana’s cricket secretary Maulik Merchant said:
“The Police Shield and Purshottam Shield matches are being conducted at our ground so there is no slot available for this women’s tournament.”
The tournament did take place finally with fresh venues selected.
Indian Airlines Sports Club ground (Kalina), Vengsarkar Academy ground (Churchgate), Shivaji Park Gymkhana and Bengal Club (Shivaji Park, Dadar), National Cricket Club and Karnataka Sporting Association ground (Cross Maidan), Khalsa College (Matunga) grounds hosted the matches.
The 34-team-tournament was organised by Rizvi College of Arts, Science & Commerce along with Mumbai University, under the aegis of MCA.
A Mid-Day editorial stated:
“This is a happy ending to a disappointingly familiar story. So many times, local sports – women’s sports in particular – are hard put to find venues. Local sports take a backseat at times, because our city maidans and gymkhanas are eyeing the big bucks that events and weddings bring. The sporting season in the city often runs parallel to the wedding season. The festive season too, often clashes with the sports season that is in full swing at the end of the year, thanks to relatively cooler temperatures.
Meanwhile, the women’s game gets short shrift on several fronts. One knows the huge gap in rewards when it comes to international cricket. But local women’s cricket too plays second fiddle to boys’ tourneys. The number of tournaments for girls are much fewer compared to boys, and there are relatively fewer venues too, which host the women’s game.
A paucity of grounds, lack of facilities like changing rooms, showers and toilets at several grounds actually make several girls drop out of local sport altogether. Every effort is needed to push women’s cricket, and for that, there is a need to start at the school level and give the same opportunities at university level as well. It is heartening to know that after initial hiccups, the first ever inter-university women’s cricket tourney is set to take off, after all. Women’s cricket, and sports in general, needs all the support it can get. “