They may look like UAE cricketers in their grey kit but they are actually Afghan girls, potentially the basis of the country’s first women’s team. 70 girls gathered in Kabul last week, to be taken through basic training by former national player Ahmad Shah Ahmadi and two other coaches. “It’s a huge step forward for the women of Afghanistan and shows how much cricket has captured the imagination of the country,” says ACC Development Officer for Afghanistan Iqbal Sikander.

It’s not been easy to establish women’s cricket, a team that was being set up earlier this year for the ACC Women’s Twenty20 in Kuwait had to withdraw after the Afghanistan Cricket Board cited “hostile social elements in our country to the women’s cricket team”. Women in Afghan sport are few and the ones there are tend to be involved in martial arts, with football also being played.

The ten-day camp was split in two, the first half being theoretical, the next five days outdoors. This Afghanistan Cricket Board-run camp aims, if not to overtly right wrongs, at least to be “running on capacity development of girl’s cricket players regarding basic cricket techniques and tactics and the main subjects were circulating over batting, bowling, fielding, physical fitness and mental development of players in the field of cricket,” says ACB Domestic Cricket Officer Hayatullah Hayat.

The ACB has said it has plans to build a cricket academy for women in Kabul that would provide the “culturally appropriate situation for women cricketers.” It’s not easy being a cricketer in Afghanistan, and it’s borderline dangerous if you’re a woman athlete. Yet there are increasing numbers of women brave enough to play. Zohra, a promising footballer in Kabul has been quoted as saying, “If we don't teach the next generation, if we don't make the future, who will?” It took the men’s team 10 years of intense activity to play in a World Cup, the women may take longer but they could get there too.

Afghanistan Cricket Profile

Filed August 15th, 2011