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Playing the field

August 7, 2018
By Adeela Akmal

A side from the digital revolution, the rapid rise in the importance, influence and value of female fans....

women in sports

A side from the digital revolution, the rapid rise in the importance, influence and value of female fans has been one of the most distinctive shifts in the sports marketing landscape in the last 50 years. We now see the impact of a second generation of young women growing up with a much higher chance of developing an interest in sports, and female sporting celebrities providing role models who are closing the gap with non-sport celebrities and their male counterparts. Women in sports - the likes of tennis player Serena Williams to our very own cricketer Sana Mir and swimmer Kiran Khan - defy gender stereotypes; make inspiring role models, and show men and women as equals. So, while traditionally this industry was predominantly male, women have been making their presence known since the past few years. It was an on-going struggle but eventually they proved their mettle and rose above all obstacles.

Fortunately, in Pakistan, many industries are increasingly recognising this and are making efforts to bring more women to the front. For instance, there are organisations which are encouraging more women to participate in domestic cricket to reach the bar set at an international level.

To revive the cricket activities in Karachi, recently, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had organised a Departmental T-20 Women's Championship 2018. The objective was to prepare a strong unit of Pakistan for upcoming 2018 Women's T-20 Asia Cup to be held in Malaysia and the ICC Women's World T-20 to be held in November 2018 in West Indies.

The tournament was played on round-robin league system - an all-play-all tournament in which each contestant meets all other contestants in turn. It contrasts with an elimination tournament. There were four teams participating: Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Pakistan Cricket Board-XI (PCB-XI) and Higher Education Commission (HEC).

On this occasion, the President of ZTBL, Mr Syed Talat Mahmood said, "Most of the players of Pakistan's National Women Cricket Team are representing ZTBL like Sana Mir, Bismah Maroof, Javeria Khan, Nahida Khan, Nain Abidi, Nida Dar, Diana Baig, Aiman Anwar, Nashra Sandhu being some prominent names among others. The participation of ZTBL Women's Cricket Team in various national level championships has made a significant impact and helped us in the promotion of our bank as well." Mr Talat has played a pivotal role in promoting sports and hunting for young talented individuals in the field of sports. Further elaborating to this scribe about the progress of the team he added, "It is a unique record that ZTBL Women's Cricket Team has maintained a winning streak since 2009. Their participation in various national level tournaments has definitely helped in promoting a positive thinking in our society about the involvement of Pakistani girls in healthy activities. Moreover, it has highlighted the pertinent role of the institution with regards to women sports in Pakistan."

The matches held during the tournament were exciting and entertaining. In the final match, ZTBL overwhelmingly defeated PCB-XI by 46 runs. After winning the toss, ZTBL chose to bat and scored 179/3 in 20 overs, having significant contributions of Nain Abidi 85 (Not Out), Bismah Maroof 65. In response, PCB-XI was restricted to 139/9 with Marina lqbal 33, Sana Taj 20 runs. Captain Sana Mir took 2 for 24.

While cricket is big in Pakistan as compared to other sports, there is certainly no dearth of talented players for other games. The only way to boost them is through creating more opportunities, and encouraging them by providing incentives. In light of that, Mr Talat also has planned to further assist them by allocating grants for developing infrastructure, nurturing talent and designing specialised programmes through the bank's Sports Department. "To prepare a strong unit of national level players for upcoming international tournaments, such as 2018 ICC Women's World Twenty20, we are planning to arrange training camps. Moreover, in a bid to revive our national sport, our bank has formed a hockey team as well. We will also be working towards arranging events for our squash and tennis teams which will be held in the near future," he concluded.