Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Female Cricketer Scoops Top Prize at Awards

By Ben Aulakh

England female cricketer Isa Guha has been crowned the Sports Personality of the Year at this year’s British Asian Sports Awards.

The only female cricketer of Asian origin to represent the national side won the prestigious prize at the ceremony, held at the Grosvenor Park Hotel in London.

Reporter Ben Aulakh caught up with Isa to talk cricket, being nominated, and what she sees as the future for Asian female sport in the UK.

What did it feel like to be nominated in the British Asian Sports Awards?
It was incredible, really wonderful; I have been nominated three times but had never won the award previously so it was all very exciting really. For me it is about being recognised as a woman who has achieved something for this country, and as there are not many women that play the sport it is about encouraging them to do that.

What was it like to win the award?
I was honoured, it was really great recognition for women’s cricket , after the year the England team has had it was an added bonus, I’m very thankful to the rest of my team mates, it would not have been the year that it was without them. The awards also show that the British Asian community respects British cricket.

Does the nomination and award feel like a reward for all the hard work you have put in to your cricket?
Definitely, when I got in to the national side in 2002 there was a lot of publicity about me being the first Asian women in the team, and to get there and to be the only Asian girl in the side was brilliant, especially because it is so uncommon for Asian women to play sport, I have looked at the figures and 92 per cent do not get the recommended levels of sporting activity, so encouraging young female Asians to play sport is a good thing.

How did you first get involved in cricket?
It mainly came from being Asian, obviously in our culture cricket is the number one sport and in our house it was always on television, and when I was growing up my parents used to tell me stories about Eden Gardens in Calcutta, and I always wanted to go and watch cricket there. I first got involved in the game chasing the ball in the back garden when my brother was playing, then when he played at a local club – their were no girls teams back then – I played in boys teams, the only girl in an all boy team. However there are now many more teams for girls.

How do you think the women’s game is developing?
Things are slowly getting better and developing in the women’s game, there has been a 45 per cent rise in girls playing and taking up the sport, however the problem comes when girls reach their teens, the transition comes when girls are young to playing in their teens, their seems to be more focus on studies, I think it’s seen as there being no future in cricket, I feel that there are not many Asian females in their teens playing cricket. It’s all about changing people’s minds to thinking of women as decent cricketers, this current England side has had very good consistency in all forms of the game, we won the 50 over world cup and 20 over world T20, and completed an ashes whitewash five to nil, the first time that has been done in the women’s game. It’s enormous what we have achieved and we are now the best team in the world.

Photograph by Stuart Hoe

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