Congratulations on becoming coach of the Maldives women’s cricket team. How long is the agreement for?
Basically, I work as a full-time cricket coach at BKSP. I’ve come here temporarily for three months. After three months, if everything goes smoothly and I like the job, I will renew my agreement. They want me here on a long-term basis.
What’s the state of women’s cricket in Maldives?
I’ve already started my work, I’ve conducted training sessions. Both indoor and outdoor facilities are excellent. To be honest, this is a big challenge, especially after the long Covid-induced break. Before the pandemic, they had a women’s national team. Now, there is no real team like that, they still haven’t been able to form a team since Covid. I am starting from zero. And players here are not professional cricketers like in Bangladesh. They have two-three jobs alongside playing cricket.
What are they expecting from you?
In the past, the focus here was more on men’s cricket. But now the number of ICC events have increased. Next year, the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women’s World Cup will take place. Maldives wants to focus on women’s cricket too. That’s why they have brought me in from Bangladesh. My responsibility is to nurture cricketers from the junior level and then form a national team with those players.
You are a coach at BKSP, then you went to Australia. Now you are in Maldives. You have the experience of working in three very different cricket cultures…
In my coaching career, these three countries are like three different points of a triangle, and I am at the centre of the triangle. Bangladesh is a developing country, from here I went to a developed country. Now, I am at an ICC associate nation. I am experiencing three different ‘flavours’. I am using the experience I gained from Bangladesh and Sydney in Maldives. Here, the work is similar to what I do at BKSP. At BKSP, I create a batch of cricketers and then prepare them for the national team. In Sydney, I worked with the Under-18 women’s team of New South Wales.
When you began coaching in Bangladesh, did you think you would get to coach a national team like this?
Definitely not. In 2007, I was part of the first batch of women’s cricketers in Bangladesh. After I did well in the national team’s camp, I felt that I can create a future here. In 2009, when I was studying at Jahangirnagar University, I got an opportunity to play for the national team. In the university team, our coach was Debabrata Pal. I am grateful to him. At that time, it wasn’t easy for a university-going girl to get involved in cricket. Women’s cricket hadn’t even officially started in Bangladesh. Out of four siblings in my family, only I was active in sports. My father was my inspiration, he supported me and gave me freedom.
Two-three female coaches have worked with the national team, but they were all foreigners. BCB still doesn’t feel that they need me. However, if BCB hadn’t started women’s cricket, I wouldn’t have made it this far. I will always be grateful to them because of that.
Have you received any coaching offers from BCB?
My coaching career began in 2011. I’ve come this far by myself. BCB could’ve given me an opportunity. Every other country apart from Bangladesh keeps local female staff in their national team’s support staff. But in the Bangladesh team, other than physiotherapist every other post is occupied by men. If men were allowed to work as physiotherapists, I think they would’ve appointed a man in that post too. Two-three female coaches have worked with the national team, but they were all foreigners. BCB still doesn’t feel that they need me. However, if BCB hadn’t started women’s cricket, I wouldn’t have made it this far. I will always be grateful to them because of that.
Women’s cricket around the world has changed a lot. What do you think the future holds for women’s cricket?
I am very optimistic about women’s sports, especially cricket. If Covid hadn’t happened, it would’ve progressed more by now. The Under-19 World Cup would’ve already have happened. The number of associate nations is increasing. ICC is also paying more attention. There are a lot of leagues happening in our country. Like last year, our women’s team has a lot of foreign tours lined up for this year too. Women’s cricket is new in Maldives, it will take some time. But I’m hopeful, if I can do my job properly, I can give something back to the Maldives Cricket Board and also boost Bangladesh’s reputation.
*This interview appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy