Tuesday 31 January 2023

These Girls in Blue

These girls in blue, waited on the side-lines, their faces lit with joy. Not only because they watched their team mates batting with excellence, but because they knew it was their time. Their time to win.

The first time a female cricket team from India would lift a world cup trophy.
The final runs were scored. India won, beating England in a seriously convincing win.

These young girls, all under – 19, laughed and hugged. It was pure joy to watch them.
Do they realise what they have achieved? I don’t think so.
Not yet. Not now. But some day they will.

I taught Indians English when they came to South Africa. Not cricket players of course, but nurses and midwives, many male, but mostly female. I spent hours with them and heard many stories, and learnt much about their culture. Patriarchy is still so much the backbone of India and its society. So is class, and honour, child marriage, discrimination, honour killings, gendercide and lack of opportunities for girls.

These young girls from India, are our very first world cup under 19 winners, but more than that, their faces, their lives and their stories, can and will inspire Indian girls to dream.

Shafali Verma was sensational at captaining her under – 19 squad and we will see her soon, as she joins the international team for the upcoming Women’s T20 World Cup. But Shafali’s story, is one that should be a lesson. She grew up in a suburb in India where girls were not encouraged to play outside, let alone play cricket. Shafali however, was determined to pursue her love for cricket, she cut her hair and disguised herself as a boy to play the sport. Her parents were jeered at and neighbours called them all sorts of names when they said their daughter was going to play cricket. Her father was a huge cricket fan and coached her, supporting her skills until eventually she was noticed and made her first-class debut at only 14 years of age. She is still criticised for being “too aggressive as a batter” in women’s cricket (really!) But she’s here, and she’s a woman of inspiration. To say the least.

In an interview after the win, one of the young female players spoke in her mother tongue, she was clear in her words, “my father died when I was very young, my mother is a farmer and farmed to help me have a better life, she sacrificed so much to help me get here today.”

Anyone who understands the culture in India, will understand that this mama didn’t own a farm and boss labourers around, they would understand that she was the labourer, a single mother, who kept her daughter. Worked hard to give her a life others would have fought against.

Child marriage.
Abuse, exploitation, violence,
female discrimination,
It’s part of the ongoing discrimination that many organisations and individuals are fighting against. 


By winning the world cup and sharing their truths, these young girls are showing us, the world, their nation and society – that discrimination is unjust. Dreams are attainable. Girls matter, and girls should be free from discrimination and inequality.

By winning the world cup, we have heard the stories of supportive fathers and uncles who nurtured, cheered and coached their daughters to achieve greatness. These are the types of fathers who change the world for good. These are the types of fathers who are needed, desperately in our world.

By winning the world cup, these incredible girls have shown us the resilience of India’s next generation of women, throwing off the shackles of discrimination and inequality. I am inspired by them, but also as I sat on the edge of my couch watching them I saw their humility, their dedication to team work and their respectful attitudes and gentle presence. They are our daughters too and I am sending them all the love in the world. Thank you daughters of India for being bravely you, and for the mama’s and papa’s who believed in their daughters, ji. 

I interviewed Jill Mcelya Founder of the Invisible Girl Project focusing on fighting gendercide in India, she speaks about the discrimination facing girls in India, here's a link to our conversation: The Invisible Girl Project

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