Friday, 6 January 2017

It’s girl power the whole 22 yards

City’s only All-girl rubber ball cricket tournament for BMC schools opens new avenues for girls hoping to pursue competitive sport

Mumbai, January 6: As Aamir Khan’s Dangal swept the nation off its feet, in a fortuitous turn of events, it has also turned the spotlight on for women’s wrestling. But for a nation that basks in the glory of its obsession for cricket, female players in that sport are still working on their game albeit away from the limelight.

On Friday, at Dongri Muncipal School, a cricket tournament set out to change this by taking giant strides to help girls in the age group of 11 to 15 studying in Mumbai's BMC schools make it big in the sport that the nation considers no less than religion. The event was the 9th ‘All-girl rubber ball cricket tournament’ held for students from BMC schools in the city. The only tournament of its kind held in the city, the All-girl rubber ball cricket tournament is being organised jointly by NGO Salaam Bombay Foundation and the BMC since 2008.

The tournament was started mainly to encourage girls from underprivileged backgrounds who study in BMC schools to participate in and take up competitive sport. In a country where women are more familiar with wielding the broom or belan, their opportunity to participate in even simple school games is non-existent. They are also deprived of the many benefits of sports -- life skills such as leadership, team work, confidence building and discipline. Not to forget the physical benefits.

The Salaam Bombay Foundation Cricket Academy aims to change this by giving girls studying in the city’s BMC schools the chance to learn a sport like cricket, display their talent and pursue a vocational opportunity that they had no access to before. This is also probably the first time many of them have got a chance to express themselves in a unique manner and to carve out their personal identities.  

Says Tanisha Khan, one of the participants “This is a unique experience for me. The challenges I face have made me even more determined to learn and play the game. I believe girls can perform as well as boys if given the chance”.

Explaining the motive behind organising the unique tournament, Devika Chadha, VP, Sports, Salaam Bombay Foundation, said,“Most of these girls would have not even dreamt of holding a cricket bat, leave alone actually playing the game. This is a great platform for them to show what they are capable of. They also make excellent role models for others in their community.”


Salaam Bombay Foundation started in 2002 to work with children in Mumbai’s slums. These children live in extreme poverty and in “at risk” environments. They drop out of school facing the risk of child labour and substance abuse, tobacco use in particular. Given these ground realities, Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF) has harnessed the ability of alternate, innovative education tools to teach team work, discipline, respect and the coping skills necessary to ensure that children develop into well rounded personalities and are able to meet the challenges they face and take leadership roles within their communities. Our in-school programme develops strong leadership and advocacy skills in children and enables them to say “no” to tobacco while campaigning for their right to a tobacco-free environment.  Over 50,000 Salaam Bombay children in Mumbai city alone and over 14 million children across six states in India are change agents at school and in their communities. In collaboration with our network of NGOs, government stakeholders and 97,055 teachers, Salaam Bombay proves that engaging the world’s most marginalized children in awareness and action on public health and life skills, promotes their persistence and achievement in school. Activated citizenship changes the lives of youth at the very margins of subsistence in immeasurable ways. Our after-school academies and skill-development initiatives focus on teaching children vital life and work skills so they can stay in school, contribute to their families, refuse tobacco and other drug use, and grow their worth and identities as capable, confident leaders and citizens.

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