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‘Why Play Cricket Being A Girl?’ What Female Cricketers Go Through In India

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Father’s innovative idea to construct a practice wicket despite limited funds at the backyard of the society helps daughter Vaibhavi during the pandemic. 

Mumbai female cricketer Vaibhavi Raja prepares for a net practice session with her father Raja at their make-shift practice session outside their house.

Cricket may not be India’s national sport, but it won’t be wrong to call it a religion in this cricket-crazy country of 1.5 billion people. Every aspiring sports person wants to play cricket for India but only a few get to realize that dream. The struggles of a player, the hard work, and the grit to make it to the top make a great story not just for the player but for any fan who follows the game.

Mumbai’s young female cricketer Vaibhavi Raja is one such aspiring cricketer and it is all thanks to her father and small-time businessman Raju Raja with passion for cricket.

Raju lives in a small one-room apartment with his family of four, comprising his wife and two daughters, in a debilitated building in Ghatkopar.

The struggles that the family goes through are those known to every Mumbaikar. Raju would travel daily to his garment factory far away out of Mumbai in Dombivli in a crowded local train.

Father Raju Raja is seen bowling to his daughter Vaibhavi in the made-up cricket nets outside their house in Ghatkopar, Mumbai.

Simultaneously, he along with his wife would participate in helping his younger daughter and cricketer achieve her daily sports goals. On the other hand, he has funded his older daughter’s education in the United States of America.

As the going got tougher with traveling occupying most of his daughter’s time, Raju chose to make things easier for her.

How? Raju brought cricket to his backyard. There was a small barren land right outside his house that belonged to the society. It was easy for him to convince the society members and his neighbors to let him form a cricket pitch that would not only be used by his daughter but anybody passionate about the game.

But there was a catch. The whole construction and the basic cost would come at Raju’s expense. “Society members and my neighbours are very good and supportive. Nobody objected to me making this, but I had to bear the cost of the pitch,” Raju said.

Cut to 2020. The pandemic has hit the world including India badly. People have nowhere to go, train, or work. But Raju is sorted. He had his cricket facilities ready for his daughter where he would bowl to her hours and hours. “That was one bad phase. It’s been two years since the pandemic has hit us. While the academies and coaching clinics were shut, we were lucky to have this facility to keep Vaibhavi fit and ready to play whenever she is asked by her team.

Raju Raja

The trouble didn’t end there and one question that kept arising was ‘why play cricket being a girl?’ for Raju’s daughter.

She will get injured, what if the ball hits her and if it gets disfigured. Who will marry her?”, is what Vaibhavi’s mother is asked. “A lot of our relatives asked this question, but we don’t listen to them. We want our daughter to do what she likes to do, and we will always be there to support her. We want to see our daughter play for India one day. And, that is our dream,” she said.

Vaibhavi is determined to pursue her dreams and is not paying any heed to what the people have to say. She believes in her father’s dream of seeing her play for India one day. “My parents have been a strong support throughout my journey and they believe that I am determined to play for India one day,” she concluded.

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