BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Twelve-year-old Anushree was walking towards the playground of Shantadurga Higher Secondary School in Bicholim to attend a cricket coaching camp for girls when she was suddenly attacked by a group of stray dogs.
While running away from the dogs, she slipped, fell and injured her right knee. Yet, she walked to the ground, cleaned her wound and after a while joined her nineteen other colleagues whose coaching routine had begun.
“My wound is paining a bit, but, this cricket camp is just for fifteen days, and I want to learn the most in this short time. I like cricket and never got the chance to attend a proper coaching camp,” disclosed Anushree during the water break announced by coach Kashinath Chari.
Anushree is one of the two hundred and twenty-three girls who joined the first coaching camp organised by the Goa Cricket Association (GCA) for girls between twelve to sixteen years in Goa at ten different centres.
“I always wanted to play cricket after watching the boys, and now the girls play on television. I have learnt quite a few things about how to take catches, bowling and batting and hope my PE teacher in school will find me good enough to select me for the school team,” says Anushree, as she prepares to return to the coaching after the water break.
The fifteen-day coaching camp initiated by GCA secretary Rohan Gauns Desai witnessed young girls attending to improve their playing skills and parents wanting to give their children a break from their normal routine. All finished happy.
“Before bringing my daughter to the camp, getting her to wake up in the morning was tedious. Now, she wakes up by herself and, in the few days that she has been here, I see a marked improvement in her discipline,” says Dias, the father of Tiya who is attending the camp in Porvorim.
“Tiya gets up in the morning and is ready to come to the camp. I pick her up after the camp. This in itself is great, and she now appears to like the game. It makes me happy because being part of a group helps a child’s overall development,” reflects the happy father.
“Papa, my coach has informed me that she would tell me at the end of coaching whether you should buy me a kit,” Tiya tells her father as she nibbles a snack offered at the end of a session.
“When we talk about girls, the thought of empowerment crosses my mind, and I want my girls to get a stage where they are able to play competitively. Now is the time to strengthen them and help them pursue sports in a professional manner,” discloses GCA secretary Rohan, as he watches youngsters focusing when being taught the art of taking catches.
Saheli from Adarsh High School in Margao is twelve-years-old and has played cricket for her school before. “I was sent to this camp by my PE teacher, and at the end of the camp, I hope to finish as a better bowler,” says Saheli, as she unlocks her cycle to peddle her way home.
“We are being taught batting and bowling now. But I would one day want to be a spin bowler. I like bowling more, though, I can bat too. I don’t know what I will finish doing,” says a thoughtful Saheli.
“We had a good response to the camp and are looking forward to grooming these youngsters and in the process being able to get better players for the next U-19 girls’ team,” observed the GCA president Vipul Phadke.
Unlike many of the girls attending the camp, Kushi Rathod has represented St Theresa High School, Candolim, in the U-14 cricket tournaments but believes she is “learning new things through this camp”.
“Fielding is something that I am learning for the first time. The fielding that I have learnt now is different from how I used to field before when playing for my school. There is a technique to it, and I am happy that I am learning that as it will improve my game,” admits Kushi, as she prepares to sit on her father’s motorcycle to begin her ride home.
Anushree fell, Shreya also fell while trying to avoid barking dogs, and many others may have fallen during the fifteen-day coaching camp organised by GCA. But, in the end, all left with smiles, good memories and hoping the GCA will once again think of them, not just as girls, but as future cricketing stars of the country.