Women players display great talent at night cricket tournament in Karachi

Published March 25, 2024
Players celebrate a wicket during a cricket match.—Dawn
Players celebrate a wicket during a cricket match.—Dawn

KARACHI: Men dressed in casual t-shirts and trousers, screaming in excitement as someone gets a wicket or hits a six, is a common sight on Ramazan nights in the metropolis. Night cricket has become a part of culture now.

But, due to lack of safe spaces for women, it was not very gender neutral. However, Khelo Kricket, a sports organisation, took an initiative of conducting women’s cricket league in the holy month.

A three-day event named ‘Khelo Khawateen’ held at Kutchi Memon Ground wrapped up on Sunday.

This tournament, now in its 7th edition, was first initiated in 2016 and boasts participation from 12 teams.

The teams include Athletic Club, BSL Pink, MW Tigers, Sindh Promoter Green, Khelo Strikers, BSL Green, BSL Champions, Khelo Stars, Sindh Promoter Whites, BSL Cricket Club and Khelo Sparks.

“When we started out, there were just four teams. It has grown over the years, getting bigger and better. We’ve over 120 girls participating in this year’s tournament,” Hadeel Obaid, founder of Khelo Kricket said.

Spectators, including parents, cheer for their favourite teams

“The idea of this event was to create and claim a safe space for girls to play cricket. We aim to encourage more and more women to come out at night and play,” she added.

The ground was vibrant with energy and anticipation as spectators eagerly awaited the results.

Teenage girls raced around the pitch, ensuring their team’s success, while parents accompanying them watched with bright eyes. Seeing the girls’ unwavering energy, despite their sweaty faces, was the event’s highlight.

“I have been playing cricket for as long as I can remember, but due to lack of safe spaces I’d shy away from playing at night. This is one remarkable effort to enhance visibility of women players and I am grateful for it,” Zainab, who was later awarded with player of the match, told Dawn.

The majority of participants fell between the ages of 15 and 20, with a few newcomers experiencing their first tournament.

“I have started playing cricket on regional level recently but this is the first time I am playing at night. I was not allowed to practise late at night because of the security concerns my parents had but this year, I have convinced them to come with me and sit through the matches,” 16-year-old Maria said.

The crowd was bustling with parents accompanying their kids, eagerly watching the matches where their daughters either played or coached. The pavilion echoed with cheers as people rooted for their favourite teams.

“In my opinion, the more you suppress your daughters, the more you’re creating hurdles for them. My daughter is a medical student yet she is passionate about cricket, so I take her everywhere. If my kid has got talent, I will support it because it is my responsibility,” Muhammad Iqbal, the father of another player, said.

“Since I was not able to play and pursue my own dreams, I want my daughter to do it. My life revolves around accompanying my daughter to the gym, and then to cricket grounds. She is so passionate about her game and as a parent, I feel obliged to support her,” Ms Sohail, another parent said.

The matches ended around 2am in the morning, with sponsors handing out prizes to the qualifying teams and star players.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2024

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