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Sunday, March 24, 2024
By Namita Bhandare

If ever proof of possibility was needed, it was provided by WPL 2024. Its success is a pivotal moment that will inspire a countless girls to just play. Read on…

     

The Big Story

Ee sala cup namdu: How WPL is a gamechanger for girls and sport

RCB celebrate after winning the 2024 WPL (Source: AFP)

For Ananya Upendran, the pivotal moment came on the opening night of Women’s Premier League (WPL) when Mumbai Indians beat Delhi Capitals with a last ball six by Sajeevan Sajana.

The uncapped 29-year-old from Wayanad “had been on the circuit for 10 years, on the verge of letting go,” says Upendran, a former state-level player who now heads GoSports’ Equal Hues Cricket Excellence programme. “And here she was, proof that given an opportunity, women can play high quality cricket.”

Proof is what WPL 2024 was all about. Proof that women can play. Proof that people want to watch them play. Proof of excellence. Proof that sport gives girls the freedom to be strong, muscular and forthright. Proof that all a girl needs is opportunity.

If you ever needed an ad for why women should play, this is it: The second season of WPL.

[Watch here]

The sheer joy of the Royal Challengers Bangalore players after they beat Delhi to be crowned queens. The tears. The dancing. The goofiness. The joy. The hugging and camaraderie. And, beyond the team, the jubilant crowds, even in Delhi where 29,000 fans packed the stadium and chanted RCB despite the loss of their team. People in Bengaluru gone mad; the women have done what the men haven’t in 16 years, bringing the trophy home.

“The second season of the WPL has proved that the current boundaries around women’s cricket need to be made larger. Not just on the field but also in our imaginations. About what Indian women’s cricket can do and how its power as the country’s biggest women’s team sport can be utilised,” writes Sharda Ugra, India’s fine sports writer, in BBC Hindi.

“In a country obsessed with male cricket, it was fantastic to see so many eyeballs on women’s cricket,” says Deepthi Bopaiah, CEO, GoSport, a non-profit that works to develop India’s Olympic and Paralympic talents through scholarships and programmes. “My male friends took their sons to watch. There so many myths and barriers being broken.”

Proof of possibility

Earlier, role models for girls who dreamt of making it big in cricket might have included a Virat Kohli or a P.V. Sindhu. Now there is no shortage of women playing cricket. Not just Mitali Raj or Smriti Mandhana but also a younger Shreyanka Patil who is just about starting her career, says Bopaiah.

“Girls today can see a pathway to success,” says Bopaiah. “They can see that this is a career worth following and they can see how it is a means to a livelihood.”

Among the 15 women cricketers chosen for the cricket excellence programme launched by GoSport in 2022, 13 are playing at the senior level, says Upendran. “The truth is you can’t make a living from domestic cricket. So apart from the obvious sporting goals, we want to be able to empower women to pursue sport without worrying about how to pursue a living,” she says,

Traditional objections from families to daughters who want to play—it’s a waste of time, it has no utility, it will distract from schoolwork and housework—tend to fall away when that daughter starts earning, sometimes enough to support her family, says Upendran.

S Sanjana (Source: ANI)

The daughter of an autorickshaw driver from Wayanad, Mumbai Indians’ S Sajana began playing as a child with her friends in the nearby paddy fields. When she was in class six, she was enrolled in a residential school for tribal children where her sports teacher saw promise and urged her to take up cricket

As Sajana reached the district level, her daily allowance of Rs 150 seemed like a good enough incentive to keep going. “Financially, it proved to be very helpful and because I was earning and saving, my decision to stay with cricket only strengthened,” she said in an interview to Sportstar.

When she was picked up for Rs 15 lakh by Mumbai Indians, she was able to pay off the debts incurred by her family in rebuilding their home that had been damaged in the floods.

“WPL has just been a life changing experience for so many players,” says Upendran.

Cup runs over

(Source: Livemint)

Growing up in a small town near Solan, Himachal Pradesh, Diksha Negi had always been sporty. In school, she was captain of the kabaddi team, travelling to compete in tournaments in Haryana. “I got to see so many places and meet so many people. I could watch better players and understand what it takes to be good,” she told me on the phone.

Now 21, Diksha is enrolled in Panjab University, pursuing a degree in physical education. While she had participated competitively in table tennis, wrestling and taekwondo in school, she says she wants to pursue a career as a coach. “Today, there are a lot of opportunities for girls to play, whether at school level or at college level,” she says. “Teams are everywhere for all kinds of sport.” And just like that, an entire ecosystem propping up women’s sport from coaches to umpires, from commentators to physios, is blooming.

And here precisely lies the success of WPL. It’s not in the impressive stats—66 sixes, 295 fours—or prize money or brand endorsements or glitzy openings endorsed by film stars. It’s the firing of dreams, to play, to be seen, to be feted.

To watch women being celebrated is a powerful thing. It is in many ways a siren song that will only pull in more girls and women into its powerful heart by telling them they can.

In numbers

Between 2021 and 2023, more girls than boys—9,474 to 6,012—were adopted under the Hindu adoption law, according to data by 11 states.

Source: Data presented to the Supreme Court reported in The Times of India

Watch

Kate Middleton (Source: LiveMint)

After weeks of frenzied speculation, Kate Middleton, in line to be the future queen of England, has issued a video explaining her absence from public life. It is indeed cancer that was diagnosed after she underwent abdominal surgery in January, she explains.

It’s unsure whether the video will set the madcap conspiracy theories to rest, but hopefully, Middleton will get the ‘time, space and privacy’ needed to recover.

Watch here..

News you might have missed

Representational Image (Source: Pexel)

Women in India seem to be ahead of men in at least one area—life satisfaction. The World Happiness Report, 2024 finds older women reporting higher life satisfaction than men of the same age. Of these, those who are married seem to be happier than those who are single, either divorced or widowed or never married.

Overall though India was ranked only 126 of 143 countries by happiness with the usual suspects, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, at the top.

Is a body massager a sex toy? No, says the Bombay high court while hearing an appeal by the commissioner of customs who had confiscated an entire consignment of massagers and imposed financial penalties on the importer as well. A tax tribunal had over-ruled the customs department decision, which is how the matter ended up in court.

In a welcome move, the Supreme Court has asked judges to stop advising LGBTQ petitioners to undergo counselling as a way to turn them against their own identity and sexual orientation.

Judges must be guided by values protected by the Constitution instead of imposing ‘their own subjective values’, the three-judge bench headed by chief justice D.Y. Chandrachud said. The bench asked judges to be empathetic and compassionate in dealing with habeas corpus and cases seeking police protection. “Social morality laden with homophobic or transphobic views or any personal predilection of the judge or sympathy for the natal family must be eschewed,” the court said.

The guidelines were issued after the Kerala high court directed the same-sex partner of a woman to undergo counselling. The woman had filed a habeas corpus (literally, produce the body) alleging that her partner was being illegally detained by her parents.

The Supreme Court order also mentions that the concept of family is not limited to natal, or birth, families but includes ‘chosen’ families.

Listen

Among the wealthiest nations in the world, America is uniquely miserly when it comes to paid parental leave, childcare policies and subsidised childhood care. In the Ezra Klein show in New York Times, sociologist Caitlyn Collins talks about what makes parenting so hard in America.

Listen here..

Around the world

(Source: The Washington Post)

Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who had in 2018 accused Brett M Kavenaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, of sexual assault has published her memoir, which might serve as a cautionary tale to women everywhere on the price of speaking up. One Way Back talks about the fall-out of her accusations: Death threats, bodyguards for her kids, and living in constant fear and anxiety. Kavenaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court judge anyway.

In Vietnam, vice president Vo Thi Anh Xuan has been appointed interim president after her predecessor, Vo Van Thuong resigned amid a corruption purge. The president occupies a largely ceremonial role

Very bad news out of Gamibia where the practice of female genital cutting was banned in 2015. Now, in an extremely regressive move, parliament has voted to bring forward a bill that would overturn that ban. If it succeeds, then to Gamibia will go the shame of reversing a ban on female genital cutting.

        

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That’s it for this week. If you have a tip, feedback, criticism, please write to me at: namita.bhandare@gmail.com.
Produced by Nirmalya Dutta nirmalya.dutta@htdigital.in.

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