Women at the wicket
Bradford cricket team show what they can do when given a ‘Chance to Shine’
Two years ago, Zaheer Jaffary – a PE teacher and cricket coach at Carlton Bolling College – asked a group of girl students if any of them were interested in playing for the school team.
With cultural barriers to break down and talents to build up, he was determined to succeed.
“The immediate response I received was screams of delight and jumps of joys,” he said.
“Little did I realise that none of the girls had ever played cricket outside of the school. It soon dawned upon me what a large task this was going to be,” Mr Jaffary said.
Through ‘sheer dedication, tenacity, fight and adopting a strong mind-set’, the girls began to grow in stature and started to believe in themselves.
Victory soon followed victory for the girls, with the imminent arrival of silverware welcomed in by all at the school.
Earlier this month, the team’s success earned them the prestigious Special Recognition accolade at the annual ‘Chance to Shine’ National Cricket Awards, held at Lords on the 2nd November.
Mr Jaffary explained: “What an amazing two years these girls have had. Two years ago I asked a group of girls if any of them were interested in playing cricket for the school team and now they have beaten 17.5million other ‘Chance to Shine’ participants to the impressive gong.”
Looking back on a successful two years, Mr Jaffary added: “I recently entered the girls in an indoor Yorkshire tournament and they were amazing. We went to Headingley not knowing what to expect and five hours later we were in tears of joy as we had just become Yorkshire Champions.
“The girls did themselves proud by winning seven out of seven games and winning the final. Everything just felt so surreal.”
Their journey is one of dedication and devotion. At school, the girls began to dedicate all their spare time to playing cricket and even gave up their lunch times and stayed after school to practice.
The team continued to train and never showed any sign of backing out.
“What makes this story amazing is that these girls came and embraced the game of cricket, despite some of the possible cultural and religious barriers,” Mr Jaffary said.
“The girls were not deterred and it is a testament to their hard work and incredible fight that they continued to pursue their dream and – in turn - soon developed a school academy for all the other girls.”
Several months later, the girls were entered into the outdoor tournament at York. They played out of their skins, won the tournament and became Yorkshire U15’s champions.
The girls beat the best school cricket team in England, even after playing under their age group.
“Even though this tournament was for the U15’s, I entered an U13’s team because, deep down, I just knew that they could compete.
“Since winning the Yorkshire championships both in and outdoor, the girls have received much Media coverage. They have been interviewed by BBC Radio Leeds and Radio 5 Live and were even invited by Lord Patel to Lords for a training session with Isha Ghoa and Mark Robinson, the new England National Coach,” Mr Jaffary continued.
The girls have now set up their own academy that invites girls from all nationalities to come and try out the game for themselves, whilst coaching the young girls at lunch times to promote the game in the community.