The tour is part of the ‘For Her’ campaign by Play True, a player management company, to promote young women athletes.

13 girls in orange jerseys stand in rows with thumbs up signs
Sports Sports Sunday, December 20, 2020 - 20:23

Working with para athletes for a few years made Sonia Anirudhan realise how hard it was for women to make it big in sports. Once you got recognition at the national level somehow, government support would come, things would be easier. But reaching there was not easy – there would often be little encouragement from people at home. Unlike in the case of boys, girls would be asked to find some other option when they talk about sports. That’s what made Sonia begin an initiative to empower young women through sports.

On Sunday night, under her player management initiative Play True, a team of teenage girls would fly to Dubai for a UAE tour, to play friendly cricket matches with boys and girls of the G Force Cricket Academy. It would be a sort of first for female cricketers other than the national team members, to go play in another country. “The campaign is called For Her. It is only the first step for empowering young women athletes. We would plan such programmes for other sports as well, providing support, training, and financial help,” says Sonia.

The team was flagged off by Stuart Keeler, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Control Room) at the Press Club in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday.

The cricket team is formed by state players of Kerala, Meghalaya, UP and Karnataka. Saranya, former coach at the National Cricket Academy, has been coaching the girls. “Women players, other than for matches by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), get few opportunities, especially from private initiatives. This however is a good campaign, and they have taken care of all the expenses including the COVID-19 test for the players,” Saranya says.

Unlike in the earlier days, there have been more platforms for women players in Kerala, however, the COVID-19 pandemic had put a stop to all the tournaments. “Our state is being really careful in dealing with the pandemic and that’s a good sign. However, other states like Karnataka have already had several tournaments for its women’s team. In January, the BCCI will begin matches for women’s cricket and we should also be prepared. This Dubai tour will give the girls a much needed practice and exposure,” Saranya says.

Debasmita Dutta from Meghalaya is the captain of the team called Fingent Pathbreakers. Kezia, one of the players from Kerala, says, “These are going to be practice matches, not a tournament or league. They will be in the T20 format and we will be playing against both girls and boys. We will be back on December 30,” she says.

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