SACS Cricket has been the driving force behind girls’ cricket in Stockholm since they started with the girls’/women’s team a few years back. They are eager to see more girls try the sport out, so we went to an indoor training session to see for ourselves.
Over the last few years cricket has grown rapidly in Stockholm, and the sport actually gained official recognition in Sweden in 2015, when cricket was accepted into the Swedish Sports Confederation. SACS Cricket has taken it as a challenge to get more women and girls to play cricket, but the growth has been lagging behind that of the men’s side. Currently 19% of the club’s members are women and girls, but SACS would like to see that figure rise to at least 40%. In the long term SACS would like to have girls’ and women’s teams for different age groups, starting from under-13s and even all the way to over 50s.
Even after the official recognition of the sport, the cricket teams in the city have still not seen proper facilities for the sport, especially during the long winter season. There is a real shortage of sports halls in Stockholm in general, which can be felt by many other sports as well. Bigger clubs and bigger sports like football seem to get prioritized, and women and girls also seem to be at a disadvantage, when time slots at sports halls are allocated.
The SACS girls’ team is training at least once a week in the winter season, but they need to make do with whatever hall and whatever time they are getting.
Cricket doesn’t need a lot of space when it comes to training facilities. With a little bit of imagination from the municipality, a small patch of land or an unused space somewhere could be turned into a cricket training area, that many cricketers in Stockholm would really appreciate.
The SACS women’s team captain is 20-year-old Areeba Khan, who is a mechanical engineering student and has been playing cricket for about five years, since the first days of SACS starting women’s/girls’ cricket training. She did get in touch with the sport earlier, playing with her brother and his friends and following matches and tournaments on TV with her family.
Cricket is so much more to me now than just a sport, it’s like stepping into another world. I can get away from my studies, work and stress and be a part of something more relaxed where we are focused on having fun and developing our skills while getting some exercise. I also feel cricket connects me with things like equality, leadership and new challenges – it’s not just about playing matches.
I also feel I’ve gained transferable skills for working life… cooperation, trust, taking others into consideration, a sense of community. Most team sports can teach you these things, you just need to find a sport that suits you, and for me that has been cricket.
Areeba has used the things she has learned to try and reach other girls and teach the sport to them, and she has also put in efforts to make them feel safe in new environments. For her own part, she says a big inspiration was when she got to meet Sana Mir, the former captain of the Pakistan national women’s cricket team and listen to her cricket stories. Also Maddy White from England and Ben Patterson from Australia have been motivating her and the Swedish women’s team to develop.
But my biggest inspiration in Sweden is Shahzeb Choudhry. He has always been there for us and put in a lot of time for women’s cricket. He’s really driven by the thought of having a women’s national team in Sweden before he quits cricket himself. Hearing something like that from a man in a sport seen as less than equal is really something.
Areeba’s big goal is to have more girls playing cricket in Sweden. She says she knows many girls who would be interested in the sport, but their parents may think of it as a “waste of time” and think it’s more important to study. But she really wants to prove that girls can excel in a sport as well and gain a lot from the experince. In her opinion, everybody should have as big a chance to be active in sports regardless of gender.
We asked Areeba how she would describe cricket to someone who knows little about it, when trying to convince them to try the sport out.
First and foremost, cricket is a gentlemen’s/women’s sport. It’s important to have a lot of respect for each other. There’s no tackling of the players in the opposing team or violating them in any other way. We all support each other. You also learn to have patience, since the matches can take several hours and you might not know who is leading until the last hour of the game.
I usually say cricket is pretty much like any other sport, but it’s just a little special to play it in Sweden. But who wouldn’t want to be unique?
If you got curious and feel like you would be interested in trying cricket out for yourself with the SACS women’s/girls team, get in touch with the club through the following: