Besides studying at a university, Fatema Jahara played several international matches as a member of Bangladesh national women’s cricket team. But who knew she would hit the ball so hard that even a cricket-crazy nation like Australia would be impressed by her style!
Like many other small-town girls, Fatema came to Dhaka from Cumilla after passing the SSC exams with usual dreams of passing HSC, compete with thousands others in admission tests of public universities and get a good job. In 2003, she chose archaeology department at Jahangirnagar University over economics at Jagannath University for residence facilities. The small-town girl Fatema now works as a coach of New South Wales Cricket Academy in Australia.
Fatema could have chosen any profession after ending her career as an international player but she chose cricket coaching. Who knew she would jump so high in the profession!
An official of Australian women’s domestic Twenty20 cricket tournament, the Women's Big Bash League, Norman Kochanek came to Dhaka to watch Bangladesh women’s latest Bangladesh Premier League. She came chiefly to watch the Bangladesh women’s national team captain Rumana Ahmed playing. But she became fond of the coaching style of Fatema during a match at BKSP (Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Pratishthan) in Gazipur. Fatema was chosen as a coach of New South Wales Cricket Academy, Australia over many Indian and Sri Lankans in October this year.
“They highly appreciates that I’m from Bangladesh and a female coach. You’d find hardly any Bangladeshi male as a coach here. You can work with a lot of freedom here. We’ve mutually accepted our coaching techniques. Everyone respects everyone,” said 31-year-old Fatema over phone from Sydney.
She does not want to stop here. Her vision is greater. “It’s a great opportunity to get a chance to represent Bangladesh. This is a big opportunity for the women cricketers of Bangladesh. I wish to work as a coach of Bangladesh and other national teams.”
Fatema’s turning into a cricketer is also a deviation from ‘normalcy’. She wanted to play cricket from childhood. Her father Mohammad Khalilur Rahman was a government employee. She regularly played cricket with boys and girls of her locality. But a distance was created with cricket when she came to Dhaka after passing the SSC exams. But she resumed playing cricket and other sports after getting admission into Jahangirnagar University (JU).
In 2006, BCB (Bangladesh Cricket Board) planned to organise a tournament of women cricketers and sent letters everywhere to form teams. JU formed a team then and started practicing then. Following her impressive performance in the tournament, Fatema was inducted into the camp of national team in 2007. She got the chance to play for the national team in 2009 and played in two series.
Though Fatema did not enjoy a ‘long career’ as an international player, she decided to remain involved with cricket. This brought her into coaching.
Former national game development manager coach of BCB, Nazmul Abedin, has seen Fatema flourish. “She’s has done good job with the upcoming women players. She’s such a person we can expect something good from. Her educational background is also very good. Though her career as a national player didn’t prolong, she wanted to be a coach. This will lead her afar.”
Former captain of women’s team Salma Khatun was once a colleague of Fatema. She also basks in the success of Fatema in coaching role.
“Fatema has played with us, now she’s giving coaching in Australia. This is a wonderful achievement for the country. It is very tough to get a female coach in our country. Probably she’s the first one. It’s good to see a woman doing good in coaching even after ending career as a player,” she said.
Coach Fatema Jahara has set a new standard in the women’s cricket in Bangladesh.
*The report, published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza