Women's Cricket & Confidence
Like a bolt out of the blue the news that Guyana was hosting the annual tournament of the West Indies Women's Cricket Federation struck us on Friday, August 16, when the Guyana Chronicle alerted its readers to the fact that umpires and match referees were brushing up for women's cricket.
The next day the Stabroek News informed us that there were nine new faces in the Guyana team and that the ministry had given $1 million to assist in expenses.
We learnt that the Guyana team had been encamped at the Cyril Potter College and there was improvement in their standard of play. The question could not escape us: What have the women cricketers been doing since the tournament in St Vincent last year? One does not become a cricketer by practising for two weeks in the year. It is an ongoing exercise.
Ave Mogan was coached by her father day in and day out. As a result, her performance on the cricket field attracted many spectators. She left Guyana for Canada and eventually was captain of a West Indian cricket team in that country.
Dolly Lokanan was arranging matches between schools. We need to know that the work continues.
Women's cricket advanced under the All Stars Women's Cricket Club because of the devotion of Mr Lallchan of Guyana Sales Inc to the game. Mr Lallchan successfully arranged the Eileen Cox Cricket Competition for youths. Then he turned to women's cricket and never allowed the team to stand idle.
Throughout the short period that the All Stars functioned, matches were arranged for the women cricketers against teams of young men on the East and West Demerara. Visits were paid to Trinidad and Tobago and to Suriname. A team of women visited from Trinidad & Tobago and one from India and confirmed that women's cricket could attract spectators.
The All Stars Women's Cricket Club collapsed when an invitation was accepted to send a national team to Grenada for a women's tournament. The ministry stepped in at the last moment and altered the composition of the team. Two of the best players were withdrawn and replaced by novices. This ended Mr Lallchan's selfless efforts to promote the game.
Today there is still need for women to take command of themselves and work as a team to place women's cricket in the Sports columns of the daily newspapers.
There is need for coaches and for tours and tournaments both in Guyana itself and overseas. It is disappointing to find that no players from Region One are in the present women's team although, from what we hear, young women in that region are constantly engaged in cricket. Lack of funds should not be given as an excuse for not including even one of them.
When the All Stars Women's Cricket Club first began to sponsor women's cricket the government advisers on cricket were opposing the introduction of cricket for women. They argued that the game was for women in Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica but NOT for women in Guyana. It was they who gave the minister advice that ruined the game for women in Guyana.
Today, there is a complete reversal of the attitude of the advisers. Mr Chetram Singh, in particular, is to be congratulated for the very active part he is playing in promoting the game for women. Development in cricket will build self-confidence in those who play the game and in the young girls who can visualize themselves as one day enjoying the glory that is now heaped on male cricketers.
Today, too, CARICOM is plugging for the development of the game. Women engaged in cricket and other games will not be drawn into the belief that sex is the only outlet for their energies. There are at present too few opportunities for women to engage in outdoor games. There was a time when women in Guyana excelled at hockey. No longer do we hear of women's hockey teams.
One wonders why interest in cricket and hockey has not been maintained over the years. Has the change in working hours been responsible? When someone leaves her office at 4:30 p.m. there is little daylight for indulging in any outdoor game. Warnings were given that the change in hours would affect games. Maybe at some time the working hours could again be changed to allow for participation in outdoor games.
In the meantime, let us give a warm welcome to our guests from Trinidad & Tobago. Jamaica, St Lucia, Grenada, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines. May the spirit of camaraderie shown at the official welcome on Monday, 19 August continue, not only to the end of the tournament but for life.