History was made at Headingley last Sunday as the UK’s first all Asian women’s cricket team took to the field to ‘bowl out domestic violence’.
Led by female cricket icon Salma Bi, the ‘Asian Inspiration’ side took on the Combined Services women for the White Ribbon Trophy as part of a day of cricket devoted to raising the issue of domestic violence and abuse against women and children.
This historic occasion marks a new chapter in Cricket as the ECB (English Cricket Board) have already set out to develop cricket within South Asian communities.
The day was organised by Halima Khan and Ikram Butt, co-founders of Cricket Beyond the Boundary Line, which aims to use sporting initiatives as platform for campaigns that facilitate peace and equality around the globe.
The event was endorsed by the ECB and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, whilst the festival also featured 80 junior players demonstrating ‘quick cricket’ as well as Bollywood dancers, Bhangra drummers and an Army band.
The Inspirational Women’s team batted out their overs, however the game ended in a tie due to the rain and both teams shared the trophy. Unfortunately, the weather did not allow the men’s game to take place, however, they did go into the indoor facilities and played a number of over’s against each other in the spirit of cricket.
Chris Green, founder of White Ribbon UK, explained: “There’s substantial evidence showing that when women are empowered, they experience less violence. As a leading organisation in the field of preventing male violence against women, we were delighted to support this event.”
Halima Khan, Director of CBBL commented: “Today marks the start of a new era for cricket empowering women and men from diverse communities to take to the crease and speak out on bowling out domestic violence against women.
“As we move forwards we would like the ECB to support more of these initiatives which aim to inspire communities at grassroots levels and BEM (British ethnic minority) women to play the game and get involved in the game’s administration,” added Halima.
West Indies international player Jonathan Carter, Ex- England International Sajid Mahmood, ECB Independent board director, Lord Patel of Bradford, Greg Mulholland MP, Leeds North West,Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner, and Dr Hanif Malik OBE, were present to watch the proceedings as well as special guest Jackie Janmohamed, President of Kenya Cricket and the first female to head up an international cricket board.
Ms Janmohamed commented: “It was great to be a part of this innovative initiative campaigning to end violence against women and empowering people to speak up through the medium of cricket.
“I look forward working with CBBL and the combined services to replicate a similar event in Kenya in the future.”
Major LM Marr, Head of Engagement for Yorkshire and the Humber, commented: “’We, the Armed Forces, were delighted to take part in the White Ribbon ‘Bowling out domestic violence event’ as it supported two focus areas that we feel really strongly about.
“Firstly the issue of domestic violence which we are as keen as every other area of society to stamp out and secondly the empowerment of women from any religious or ethnic background to be able to play sport, or take part in physical activity of any nature.
“It was a fantastic event and we feel very honoured to have been able to take part in it. The Combined Services Team are very much looking forward to the rematch.”
Former rugby league and union international Ikram Butt, founder of BARA and Sport Campaigns Manager for White Ribbon was pleased to see so much support on the day, despite the rain.
He added: “This was a great opportunity to raise awareness of violence against women and develop women in sporting roles at the same time.
“We aim to make this an annual fixture for both the men and women’s game as well as organize tours and expand opportunities for people from diverse communities to take part in cricket.
“I would like to thank all of those involved in the day. Sponsors, supporters, players and organisers all played their part in getting out this vital message.”