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A tale of indomitable Bithi’s Cricket Academy

Published : 19 Mar 2024 10:35 PM

"I wanted to study law as my cricket career was not well. But I couldn't do that for want of money and then I agreed with my family to get married. When it didn't happen, I decided to commit suicide. My family, however, rescued me from the critical juncture. Later, I told them that I want to open a cricket academy."

Cricket coach Arifa Jahan Bithi said, from that idea, she formed the 'Women's Dreamer Cricket Academy' with some girls from various schools of Rangpur in 2019. Till to date, it's the lone free women's cricket academy in the country.

In an interview recently, Bithi said the journey of the academy started with 30 girls. Now it has more than 300 members. They take part in training six-day a week at Rangpur Stadium under her guidance.

Bithi was born and brought up in Nurpur of Rangpur district. She 

used to lead a hardship life with four brothers and sisters as her father was the lone bread earner of the family.

She has to take care of the family at her young age. But her hobby was sport, especially cricket. She participated in various school sports competitions and won prizes.

Later, she was admitted to a local cricket academy after convincing his parents. Within a short time, she got the opportunity to play in several clubs including the famous Orient Sporting Club.

About women in sports, Bithi said, "A woman has to face many obstacles when she comes to the sports arena. I myself also had to face many hurdles. So I always try to stand by those girls who face obstacles. It also led me to launch a free cricket academy for women".

"I wanted to play in the national team. But luck didn't favour me. Now I am putting my best efforts behind the cricket academy so that the academy's girls get chance in the national team", she added.

She said, "My dream is now centering the cricket academy. In the beginning, all of my savings have evaporated behind the academy. After knowing this, my mother took Tk 20,000 as loan from an NGO to encourage me. With that money, I've bought cricket equipment including balls, bats, pads, helmets and started journey of the academy. Training runs from 3pm to 5pm on six days except Friday".

Eight trainees of the academy, so far, got chance at BKSP through test. Bithi whishes new talent cricketers like Salma, Jahanara, Rumana or Sanjida will come out in the coming days from her organization. She wants that girls will not lag behind. She has taken this initiative to teach cricket to talented and poor girls. She dreams that the girls of her academy will represent the country at international level in cricket.

"Girls have to go through many hurdles in this society from the young age. I think that Women's Dreamer Cricket Academy will help girls learn cricket and become bold and confident," she said.

About her future plan, she said, "We are dreaming that at least five national level cricketers will be developed from this academy in the next five years". At the same time, this cricket academy will also play a very important role in the development of women in Bangladesh".

Bithi has also acclaimed recognition of her initiative for making welfare of women. She received 'Joy Bangla Youth Award-2023' in the Social Inclusion category.

Atahar Ali Khan, a former cricketer and cricket personality of the national cricket team, said that Bithi's initiative is also very courageous.

"BCB has adopted a multi-faceted plan for the development of women's cricket. If these plans are implemented, new dimensions will be added to the country's cricket arena, he added.