Bidari: Story of progressive persistence in adversity

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PC: Aarati Bidari
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Here’s a beautiful narration by Bhawana Ghimire, a true cricket lover.

                             Before getting into the topic directly, I would like to take you on a ride of female sports and where it is standing among the world of gigantic men’s sports. Don’t take it as an act of activism, I just proudly want to take you somewhere maybe we are lagging behind to find the fact. The world is evolving every day and so is the dynamism of sports. The sports apparel, as well as the equipment industry, is no longer in unidirectional vision. Here is what I am up to so I hope you enjoy this ride from one of the minor writers from a country who has just almost no one to write about the women’s game. When I surveyed, I got some extraordinary numbers that just lit up my eyes. so here are the numbers that may lit up more eyes like mine and break some stereotypes of our society.

I logged into a website www.globalsportmatters.com and I saw the numbers that really mattered to me and I hope it does matter to everyone of our age as it is really important for the numbers to improve globally. The powerhouse of the economy, as well as education, Canada as well as the United States, have only 10% as well 11.5% women as reporters and sports editors respectively. The quantum of sports journalism feels so thin and weary that very limited minds, as well as resources, revolve around women’s sports. There are more numbers in this short journey so I hope everyone will hold their calm and enjoy this numerical ride.

Let’s change our screen from Global sports matters to infographics presented as the part of the online Master of Athletic Administration in www.onlinemasters.ohio.edu and the number speak itself where a recent study comparing coverage of ESPN’s Sports Center and Fox Sports 1’s Fox Sports live found that each program featured women’s sports coverage less than 1% of the time.

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When I jumped into cricket, I found some good numbers in a brochure 4aGuide-to-diversity-girls-and-women.pdf that participation of girls and women have increased by more than double and the mind-boggling fact that Girls and women make up 24% of all cricket participation. In 2015, a total number of 293566 girls and women participated in cricket from all entry levels as per the Australian Cricket Participation Census 2015 which is huge in terms of the number for where women’s cricket stands all over the world.

To chase all the numbers may seem vague hence, our team opted to start a section where we could feed you with some astonishing stories that would definitely inspire girls and women in this country to carry sports as their dream. Our dreams are not just caged around the walls of our surroundings and imagination and the women we present you in the field of cricket would one day inspire many writers of other women sports to write from their place to increase the astonishing numbers where many women would stand for each other.

How many of you remember the golden year in women’s cricket? 2007 AD, the year that brought a ray of hope for all girls who were dreaming of representing their nation, singing the national anthem, waving their flag at the highest level. With the remarkable performance at the ACC games, SAG games, women’s cricket was at its highest peak in such a short period. It was quite amazing to see how these young bunch of girls had made their names on the international level. They became an inspiring role model for many girls who started to follow cricket So, here’s some part of the story of someone who was one of the sparkling buds of that era of women and Girl’s cricket in Nepal. 

   Aarati  Bidari, national player, leader, founder of Rising Women Cricket was born in a middle-class family like many other aspiring girls at Chitwan. Her childhood was spent in a good environment. From school days, she was actively participating in sports. In the early days of schooling, she used to watch her brother play cricket, and later on, she started to show interest in it.

With big dreams and courage, she started her cricketing journey from the small gully of Chitwan. Back then, women’s cricket was getting a kickstart day by day. Newspaper reading was part of her hobby, she used to read articles, interviews of Nery Thapa.  she was captain of the Women National Cricket Team at that time. Her stories were the motivation as well as a stepping stone for her. She is the role model, influencer of her. 

She stated to me proudly and with a heavy heart(in a telephonic conversation) that ‘’ The First name in women’s cricket I had ever heard was Nery Thapa. Under her captaincy, Nepal had won many major tournaments. Reading her articles, interviews inspires, motivates me to start the journey in cricket ‘’

Aarati’s first appearance in the U-19 International tournament was in 2010 AD. This game was a part of the ACC U-19 women’s championship. She represented Nepal at the U19 level from  2010 to 2012 AD. But for the senior team debut, she had to wait for quite a long time. Nearly after 7-8 years, she got the call-up for the senior national camp. She made her first appearance on the senior team on 12 January 2019 against Thailand-A. Her remarkable spell ended with 4-1-5-3 which helped Nepal to stop Thailand-A just at 19 runs in 15.4 overs. She got the man of the match award on her very first appearance on the senior team.

On that day Nepal witnessed the victory of 9 wickets. But this match didn’t get ICC T20 status. Later on the final of Women’s T20 Smash, she made her official international debut for the Nepalese Women’s Cricket Team. In that game, with the impressive knock of Natthakan Chantam of 69 not out, the Thai team build up a defendable score. Her bowling spell of two overs for just 12 runs wasn’t enough for the victory of the Nepalese team.

She was also a part of the ICC women’s Asia Region Qualifier held in Thailand in February 2019. Aarati left her mark on that tournament with an extraordinary figure against china giving away just 17 runs in her quota of four overs. Her magical spell helped Nepal to clinch the victory with a little margin of just 5 runs. Unfortunately, later on, she missed the remainder of the tournament due to injuries. Just like in international cricket she left her mark on the domestic tournament as well. She is engaged with the franchise team Biratnagar Warriors, provincial team Bagmati and also was a part of Latitpur’s Mayor XI. Her domestic figure is as follows in the infographics:-

Looking back to her journey from gully of Chitwan to senior team wasn’t much easier as we jot it down. At the starting stage of her carrier, she ended up losing her father who was her biggest supporter and influencer.  ‘’ When the district selection camp for the U19 team was running, I lost my father. Still remember that I had participated in the tournament by attending my father’s funeral. Anyone couldn’t imagine how I bear that emotional and mental pressure. By the grace of God, I was at the final list of the ACC U19 women’s championship squad.’’

Infrastructure for cricket wasn’t that much well at Chitwan so she had to move to Kathmandu for further coaching. But at the time when you lost your financial supporter, wasn’t much easier to make decisions.

‘’ When you try and fail, you will at least feel like you’ve tried. But what if you don’t try? You’ll surely reach nowhere.’’ She flips the coin but doesn’t have any idea whether there is a head or tail in her journey. Days passed, years passed, but the dream with which she had come to Kathmandu was still unfulfilled. Sometimes injury became her enemy and sometimes lack of support for the women’s cricket from authorized body pushed her dream backward.

‘’ I had reached the point in my career from where I just wanted to give up on everything. Those times were really tough for me to motivate myself. No proper tournament, no salaries, nothing for women’s cricket was so frustrating to see. The authorized governing body, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) was suspended at that time. My mind just rang a bell to do something from me to the aspiring women as well as Girl’s cricketers like me to contribute through cricket in one way or another. I came up with an idea to open a women’s cricket club.’’    

The rising Cricket Women(RCW) club was registered in 2017 under the chairmanship of Aarati Bidari. She started this club with the motive to support all the girls who are searching for their future in cricket. She always thinks this will help all girls not to face difficulties which she had faced in her journey. Under her captaincy, they manage to organize tours within Nepal and in countries like India, Bangladesh so they could get the chance to experience the away conditions and improve their skills.

They organize domestic tournaments as well. Back in 2017, within the year of establishment RCW became the first club to beat the departmental Team. They beat APF in the final of the Ruslan Attariya cup under her captaincy, which was a tournament with the highest cash prize at that time. Besides all these, she had completed the level 2 coach training under ACC in Malaysia in 2014 AD. In the future, we could see her in coaching as well.

Aarati’s story is a progressive example of how women move in a direction of success in the field of sports too. The participation can be increased, the scope of development could be better but I was astonished to get some facts about the progressive factors that would certainly lift inspirations like Aarati to work more on their skills as well as aim.

An astonishing part of the stat was read by me in www.onlinemasters.ohio.edu that an average of 25.4 million fans in the United States watched the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Similarly, I always love this number 86,714 which was the number of people that watched the final of the Women’s Cricket world cup in the Melbourne Cricket Ground(MCG) and made the world notice that women’s cricket exists and will stay forever. To give all of you one serious example to conclude all the numbers and reason for presenting this story, for the first time in the year 2020, Nike a globally renowned sports brand started selling jerseys for the women’s World Cup-winning team in men’s size, quashing long-running double standards; Men’s team jersey has sold in women’s sizes for years.

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