Muslim girls take the field for a new innings

Many young Muslim girls from poor backgrounds in Vadodara have taken to cricket in the hope of getting a ticket to a better life, like the Pathan brothers, Yusuf and Irfan. On Sunday, Surat organized its first ever cricket tournament for Muslim girls in floodlights, making history of sorts for the minority dominated Rander area of the city.

The Rander Islamia Gymkhana became the first ground to host such a match. Four all-girls teams played in the event organized to empower the new generation of Muslim girls. The girls played the matches in specially designed bright coloured tracks and T-shirts. The spectators too had a large numbers of girls. To cheer their team, 38 school girls arrived all the way from Mumbai.

Of the four teams, two were from D M Girls Orphanage, Mumbai, while two were from HIMS Botawala Charities, Surat. The match was played with tennis balls after a month-long coaching and fitness camp.

"I want to become a cricketer and this is a first step towards my aim. I am an all-rounder and I admire Mahendra Singh Dhoni the most," said Ensha Qureshi, 13, who lives at D M Girls Orphanage, Mumbai.

Another all-rounder of the team Murshida Qureshi, 13, said, "I believe that there should not be any restriction on girls. We should be allowed to play or take part in different activities to express ourselves."

Trustee of D M Girls Orphanage, Miriam Botawala, said, "I believe that the cricket match between girls will set an example. The girls are very happy and excited as they are playing for the first time." The match is being played on the eve of 93rd birthday of Sheila Botawala, mother of Miriam and president of the trust.

Zuber Botawala, trustee of HIMS Botawala Charities, said, "We got the girls trained from a professional coach and will continue encouraging them for excellence in sports."