mid-day editorial: Give women's cricket a sporting chance

After nearly three weeks of struggling to find venues, Mumbai’s debut All India Women’s Inter-University cricket tournament is no longer in jeopardy, with sports clubs across the city coming to the rescue.

In a bid to buoy the women’s game, the tournament was announced on November 20 by Rizvi College and Mumbai University. Since then, however, three of the eight venues told the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) they would be unable to host matches due to prior commitments. The tourney was in danger of being scrapped, but grounds in Kalina, Churchgate, Shivaji Park and Matunga played saviour.

This is a happy ending to a disappointingly familiar story. So many times, local sports - women’s sports in particular – are hard put to find venues. Local sports take a backseat at times, because our city maidans and gymkhanas are eyeing the big bucks that events and weddings bring. The sporting season in the city often runs parallel to the wedding season. The festive season too, often clashes with the sports season that is in full swing at the end of the year, thanks to relatively cooler temperatures.

Meanwhile, the women’s game gets short shrift on several fronts. One knows the huge gap in rewards when it comes to international cricket. But local women’s cricket too plays second fiddle to boys’ tourneys. The number of tournaments for girls are much fewer compared to boys, and there are relatively fewer venues too, which host the women’s game.

A paucity of grounds, lack of facilities like changing rooms, showers and toilets at several grounds actually make several girls drop out of local sport altogether. Every effort is needed to push women’s cricket, and for that, there is a need to start at the school level and give the same opportunities at university level as well.

It is heartening to know that after initial hiccups, the first ever inter-university women’s cricket tourney is set to take off, after all. Women’s cricket, and sports in general, needs all the support it can get.

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