Sport star on getting more Asian women playing Cricket
AWARD-WINNING sportswoman Salma Bi is MAD about cricket and believes her exciting new project can Make A Difference in getting more females involved in the game.
Birmingham-based Salma is soon to launch a new coaching organisation called Believe in MAD (Making A Difference) which aims to raise awareness of both girls/women’s cricket and disability cricket.
Salma, 25, made the headlines two years ago when she won an Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Asian Sports Awards for her contributions to women’s cricket on a night which also saw world boxing champion Amir Khan and England Test bowler Isa Guha pick up top accolades.
Salma’s love for the sport started at an early age. Her family settled in Birmingham from Pakistan when Salma was just two years old.
And growing up in a ‘sporty’ family, you could say it was inevitable she would find her calling in the world of sport at some stage in her life.
“I first started playing cricket at home with my family and having five brothers and a sporty father helped,” she told The Asian Today.
“I captained the cricket team at secondary school and that’s where my love for the sport started.”
Determined to make her mark in cricket, Salma attended Warwickshire County Trials and soon turned heads with her off-spin bowling. She was quickly in demand with three different cricket clubs vying for her services.
Today Salma has her name etched in the history books having become the first Asian female ever to be chosen to represent Worcestershire CC.
The 25-year-old also plays for Five Ways Old Edwardians and Wall cricket clubs and is a level one umpire and level two coach who aims to inspire young girls from ethnic minorities to become involved in cricket.
Salma admits it took her family a while to share her passion for the sport – a passion no less which she passed down to younger sister Anisha who plays for Warwickshire County Cricket’s Under 15 Girls team.
“They don’t expect me to be at home in the kitchen but they are proud to see two girls in the family playing County Professional Cricket,” Salma says.
“They only started supporting me, when I brought Medals and Trophies home. Before I had my own car it was hard for them to support me and take me to games; they couldn’t understand why the sport was in demand of so much commitment.”
Salma balances her commitment to cricket with a fill time job as a Haemodialysis Specialist Adult Registered Nurse. And when she’s not tending to sick patients, she’s helping Asian women – young and old – get active in cricket coaching sessions.
Her latest venture ‘Making A Difference’ is a Coaching Academy to help create awareness of girl’s cricket and disability cricket which is dedicated to her young niece who is wheelchair bound.
“I want to make a difference with this project,” Salma says.
“I always wanted to start my own coaching academy as I love teaching what I’ve been taught. For me I believe every opportunity should be grasped. One thing will eventually open a Window of dreams to another possibility.
“It’s a legacy I want to leave for others to remember, to make female sports stand out and to have something to be proud of. Hopefully my younger sister will take on this role and promote the Foundation Internationally too.”
Part of the initiative will involve hosting a pioneering national Ten10 cricket tournament that invites girls aged 14 and over to participate in a six-a-side World Cup-style competition.
It is hoped the Edgbaston Indoor Cricket Centre in Birmingham will stage the event, which is set for March 31, 2012, but if that venue is not available another nearby sports centre can be used.
“We aim to have 12 teams, all provided with a coach,” explained Salma.
“There will be two pools of six teams, each playing five games on a round-robin basis, with progression to the quarter-finals, semis and final depending on points accumulated.
“The idea is to have exciting, fast-paced games and to add extra intrigue; teams who finish on the same points will play-off in a ‘super over’ where each batsman will try to score as many runs as possible off one ball each.
“Players of all abilities will be welcome and each team will be represented by a country name to give the event more of a World Cup theme.
“It will be a day of fun, games and learning, but most importantly involving girls and women playing sports.
“We shall have case studies of people with a disability playing cricket and a special guest attending to present the awards, hopefully an England Women’s player who can share their experiences and Make A Difference.”
To widen the competition’s appeal further, there are plans to provide stalls, refreshments and various sideshows at the March 31 showpiece.
If the indoor tournament is a success, Salma plans to stage an outdoor one too in the future.
She says initial response to the initiative has been great.
“I have people in Wales, London, Sandwell and Nottingham supporting in this fantastic idea. They always wanted a female face to make something work, so I guess now is the perfect time for me to boost the Event and attract some fantastic talent out there.
“I have the vision of an outstanding event I just now need the support of the people out there to make it possible.”
Salma is now seeking sponsors for an event she hopes will attract local, regional and national media coverage.
Believe in MAD are having their own logos printed and sponsors motifs will also be displayed on banners publicising the tournament. Sponsors logos will also be used on team kits.
As for the future, Salma and Believe in MAD’s co-founder hope to eventually open an indoor cricket academy in the Birmingham area with nets, coaching facilities and regular staging of T10 league matches.
“We want to break the barriers of Asian girls limited to playing cricket outside of educational hours and give them the access to achieve goals and Make A Difference in a safe and suitable environment,” added Salma.
Salma would very much appreciate any offers of sponsorship towards the T10 Tournament or her academy project.
If you would like to be part of the project contact Salma on 07950542308.