Cricketer Shafali Disguised & Trained As Boy Since No Academy Admitted Girls
Sanjeev Verma, the father of India's youngest T20I debutant 15-year-old Shafali Verma, recently made a revelation that has left the nation shocked! In conversation with the media, he said that he disguised his daughter as a boy to get her enrolled in a cricket academy in Rohtak, which refused to admit any girls. Here are all the details…
Left with no other option, Shafali pretends to be a boy
In his candid chat, Sanjeev stated that since there were no academies for girls, he was left with no option but to fake his daughter’s sex. "I cut her hair and got her enrolled as a boy (when she was nine). I was scared but no one noticed,” he admitted. Apart from having complete faith in his little girl’s talent, Sanjeev knew and focused on nothing else.
Then, on her father’s instructions, the then nine-year-old Shafali underwent a transformation that made her look as much like a boy as she could, only so she could attend practice sessions in the academy.
The Vermas dealt with extreme gender bias and discrimantion
Further explaining his struggle to enable his daughter to pursue what is unfairly dubbed as a “gentleman’s game,” Sanjeev added: “No one was ready to induct her in any academy because there was not a single one for girls in Rohtak. I literally begged them to give her a chance but in vain.”
Sanjeev, owner of a jewellery shop in Rohtak, told the Times of India in an interview: “I knocked on the doors of a lot of cricket academies but all I got was rejection. I decided to cut her hair, and took her to one of the academies and got her enrolled there as a boy. Since kids look the same at that age, no one figured it out, luckily!”
While Shafali’s practice sessions were sorted out because of her disguise, Sanjeev began to face backlash from others. Talking about how even his neighbours had an issue with a girl taking up cricket as a profession, he said: “Neighbours and relatives started to taunt me. Your daughter plays with boys, girls have no future in cricket. I and my daughter were exposed to such scornful comments from society that anyone would get mentally scarred. But my daughter is very strong mentally. She told me once, ‘Papa one day they all will be chanting my name.”
His daughter’s biggest fan, Sanjeev said: “When she first came on TV while playing for Velocity team in the Women’s T20 Challenge in May, all those who were criticising us were dumbstruck. I felt so proud.”
Women in sport
Earlier last month, Shafali earned her maiden India call-up for the first three T20Is against South Africa women. When she made it to the field at only 15, she became the youngest Indian cricketer to play a T20I. Despite all her achievements at such a young age, the fact that Shafali is a female, has been a hindrance in terms of opportunity.
Per those who argue against women in sports, especially cricket, a market for them doesn’t exist. Proof? Due to lack of support, people were allowed to watch Womens IPL matches for free! According to many, this is the only way to help support the players in this league, and encourage viewers to get accustomed to women cricketers.
The entire nation cheers and encourages the Indian men’s cricket team, even when they win the smallest of matches. Why aren’t women treated equally and given the same opportunities?