Cricket teams provide girls and women with a platform to excel

Nyra Seth at pre-season training last week

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For the first time in their history, Slough Cricket Club will be entering girls and women’s teams in the Berkshire Cricket League this summer.

An under 11s and u13s side will play softball as well as hardball in the u13sblast competition, while a women’s team has also been entered into a softball league.

The interest among young women and girls in the area has always been there, but they now have a platform from which to express themselves, according to club coach Raabia Akhter.

Players who also show an interest will also be offered the chance to develop their coaching skills and Raabia hopes the club can inspire a few young leaders to step forward.

“I’m very proud of the girls,” she said.

“We’re catering for all because everyone likes the element of competition.

“It means they’re working towards something and they try a little harder.

“Before this there was nothing available for women or girls in Slough who wanted to play cricket. Now they have a platform to play cricket on their own doorstep and don’t have to travel to Maidenhead or Bray or other places around Slough.

“We want to get ourselves up to a good standard where girls feel comfortable coming to play for the team.

“We also want them to come and play for their home town. The interest has always been there, but they now have a platform and we want girls to encourage their friends to get involved. This isn’t just for those who want to play hardball cricket, it’s open to everyone.”

Girls and women have been training at the club for the past four years, but this is the first summer they’ve been able to play competitively, whether they’re a beginner or a more accomplished player.

Raabia also hopes to improve the 'mindset' of players so they believe that ‘big things are possible for them’.

Their first training session ahead of the season took place at Slough CC on Monday evening, and it was a great success.

“The numbers were great, and the girls were all happy to be out, playing cricket and meeting new people,” she said. “We want to change the mindset, that we can do anything if we put our minds to it. They can achieve big things. People think young girls should maybe play the game at a young age but it’s not something they should pursue, but we want to guide them and make them realise they can continue playing and it can be a career for some. Some of the girls may also want to develop their coaching skills and we can help them with that and hopefully inspire some young leaders.”

Raabia also believes that playing the game can improve girls’ self-esteem and confidence. A u13s team was entered into the Berkshire Indoor League last season and teams have also been able to play in annual cricket festivals which have proved a big success. The Berkshire Cricket Foundation and Slough Get Active have also helped the club raise awareness while supplying it with funds to get these new teams up and running.

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