In a way Mumbai cricket celebrated Women's Day yesterday with Varsha Nagre stepping out to take her place on the field as umpire in the U-14 MSSA Giles Shield match between Gokuldham (Goregaon) and Anjuman Islam (CST) at Cross Maidan.
Varsha Nagre officiates during a MSSA inter-school Giles Shield cricket match at Cross Maidan in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/Sameer Markande
A resident of Thane, this left-arm spinner, has represented Mumbai at the senior, junior, U-19 and university levels, and is also an official scorer for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Varsha says she decided to become an umpire to get closer to the game. "I have a lot of energy and want to get as involved as possible. I have the stamina to umpire the whole day," she told mid-day yesterday.
Varsha's was inspired to take up umpiring while working as a scorer as New Zealand's renowned umpire Kathleen Cross was officiating a 2011 Women's World Cup match.
'Thank you, Kathleen'
"She (Cross) aroused the interest in me to take to umpiring. She advised me how to go about becoming one, and I soon enrolled for a one-and-a-half-month course with the Mumbai Cricket Association. The course taught me the laws of the game and after clearing the exams, I became a certified umpire."
Her family was reluctant at first. "Initially, my mom was not supportive, but now they all applaud me for following my heart. I am an independent woman. I previously worked as a coach at KOOH Sports and I umpired during the weekends. My mom often complains that I don't take enough rest but I enjoy being on the field."
The 28-year-old however, admitted that umpiring is no easy job. "It's a matter of judgment… we have to often make split-second decisions." And coaches, she said, could help by teaching students the importance of fair play and encourage them to walk back when they are out.
Varsha earns a modest R1200 per day, but it's the passion for the game that drives her. She aspires to officiate in an international fixture. "I am a BCCI Level-I umpire and my dream is to one day walk out in the middle for an international match."