✪ Bahrain boosts women’s cricket through launch of BCF T20 Women’s League

K R Nayar

Senior cricket writer & analyst

Bahrain Cricket Federation (BCF) has been doing everything right with regard to the spread of the game in their country. Not only have they been promoting boys and mens cricket, they are now giving a big push to girls and women’s cricket in a big way. The latest among their innovative initiatives is the launch of BCF T20 Women’s League to attract more women to take up the game.

Chief guest Mr. Yusuf Lori, Director of Information at Capital Governorate, along with Mr Mohammed Mansoor, Chairman, BCF Advisory Board, and BCF Board members Mr Anoop Kewalram, Mr Fawaz Bokhowa and Mr Ahmed Baqer, at the inauguration of the BCF T20 Women’s League

BCF has a goal and that is to create a pathway for their talented women cricketers to play in ICC T20 International matches in the future. And to make this goal a reality they are busy making many plans to reach there. Their first move, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, took place as part of Bahrain’s National Day celebrations, through the launch of the first edition of the BCF Women’s T20 league. This is to accelerate the spread of the sport, especially growth of women’s cricket in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The teams on the inaugural day of the BCF Women’s T20 league

The event held at the Isa Town Cricket Ground was attended by a large number of kids, cricketers, and board members. Chief guest Mr. Yusuf Lori, Director of Information at Capital Governorate congratulated the BCF and formally inaugurated the T20 Womens League along with Mr Mohammed Mansoor, Chairman, BCF Advisory Board and BCF Board members Mr Anoop Kewalram, Mr Fawaz Bokhowa and Mr Ahmed Baqer. The event was hosted by Ms. Shailla Khan, the women’s cricket team manager.
Mr. Hatim Dadabhai, President of the BCF, after wishing everyone a happy National Day shared a message to the players: “Come together and fulfill your dream to be a cricketer and make Bahrain proud.”

Dance by Iqra Khan during the inauguration of the league

The event was a memorable one and colourful too. It started with a Quran recitation by Mohammad Uzair, followed by singing of the National Anthem by kids, a Bollywood dance performance by Iqra khan, and distribution of kits and bouquets to the captains and teams by board members. After the Board Members exchanged greetings for the National Day, they shared their plan for the upcoming events and BCF’s vision for the future.

Children and parents at the inauguration of the league

The BCF, which has a history of creating many firsts in the Kingdom, announced that for the first time in their history of the game, a T20 league for women consisting of eight teams.
The T20 league’s eight teams are BCF Red, BCF White, High Performance Cricket Academy (HPCA) Queens, HPCA Superstar, HPCA Warriors, Star Lankans, Bahrain Spartans and Bahrain Pearls. Matches will be played every weekend for next three months with over 30 matches scheduled to be held over Fridays and Saturdays. All players will be playing in their coloured team jerseys.

Singing of the Bahrain national anthem by children

The inaugural match played between HPCA Queen and BCF Red was special in many ways and was held in front of a large turn-out of spectators. HPCA Queens won the toss and going by the general trend, elected to field. BCF Red got restricted to 100 for 7 in 20 overs with opener Hema Raghavendar top scoring with 18 runs off 30 balls and Abeera Waris hitting a quick 12 runs off 16 balls. Queens bowled tightly with Pavithra Shetty, Deepika, Prajna Jagdish, Swarna Satish and Shasikala Satish taking one wicket each. Swarna stood out as the best giving away just seven runs from her four overs and even recording the first maiden over in Bahrain’s league

Toss before the inaugural match

Chasing the score, HPCA Queens reached the target in 11.5 overs. One-drop Deepika hit 13 runs while Poorvaja Jagadish scored 10 to set the tempo. Pavithra Shetty (12n.o) and Asha (11n.o) lifted their team quickly to the target. Manal Malik took one wicket while Hema Raghavendar stood out with two wickets for 23 runs. Hema Raghavendar won the woman of the match award for her allround show.

Star Lankans team

The women’s league has received sponsorship support from Bahrain Financing Company as the main sponsor of the event
Mr Mohammmed Mansoor, Chairman, Bahrain Cricket Board Advisory Group, expressing his delight over the event, said, “Bahrain Cricket Federation is delighted to launch the T20 Women’s League to drive Womens Cricket in Bahrain. This will provide the pathway for our talented Women Cricketers to play in ICC T20 Internationals. We are also exploring further opportunities to launch the GCC Women’s T20 Cup in consultation with other GCC Cricket Boards, which will further drive womens cricket to greater heights.”

HPCA Queens Team

Anoop Kewalram, General Secretary, BCF, revealed that this was only a beginning. “T20 Women’s League is a first step towards our vision to promote Women’s Cricket in Bahrain. I am pleased to share that we have Baharini women actively playing cricket and we are working to further increase this participation by supporting women’s cricket at the grass root level by reaching out to schools, universities and colleges.”
The BCF has already worked out plans to send coaches to schools and teach cricket free of charge. They have also supplied free kits to ensure that they keep playing the game. Plans are also on to launch a Gulf Cup for Women inviting six Gulf countries. Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE will contest in this event to be held in Dubai during the first quarter of the January 2022.

BCF Red team

The most encouraging aspect for BCF is that many Bahraini women are enjoying cricket and playing it too. In the BCF Red team, around fifty percent are Baharaini women, while the others have a mix of nationalities from other countries. There is the Star Lankans team made up many Sri Lankan women.
BCF is now providing high-quality pre-tournament practices, arranging practice matches, training camps, posting coaching staff and even physiotherapists for players of all age groups. They are on a mission to go to schools and motivate girls from a young age to participate in sports and promote physical fitness from an early age. BCF is thus geared up to invest heavily in spreading the game among women.

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