Women come a long way, officiate BCCI boys match for first time in Goa
PANAJI: There was a sense of accomplishment for match officials Janani N, Vrinda Rathi (umpires) and Meenakshi Mangla (match referee) at the end of the first day’s play between Goa and Kerala in the Vijay Merchant U-16 match at the Academy ground, Porvorim, on Friday.
This is the first time women have officiated a BCCI level match for boys in Goa.
“There is no discrimination as far as officiating is concerned. We spend six hours on the ground, follow the same rules as men. We worked hard and waited for years before we could appear for the officials’ exams. The wait has been worth it,” said Janani, who kept asking the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association for women’s exams and finally managed to jump the hurdle in 2013.
Mumbai girl Vrinda Rathi, the other D grade umpire, provides more insight about how things have changed for women.
“Women players were active but not known due to lack of television coverage. The likes of Anjum Chopra, Mithali Raj are known, but we are sure others would have been famous too. With India reaching the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup in 21017, everyone knows most of the players. Things changed drastically with social media. Women players are getting their due recognition,” said Vrinda.
Vrinda worked as a scorer for eight years before the doors of officiating opened for her.
“I worked as a scorer for 10 years, eight for BCCI. With India hosting the 2013 edition, I saw legendary umpire Kathy Cross and it made me believe that even I can be an official. I asked Mumbai Cricket Association if I can apply and that’s how my journey started,” said Vrinda.
For D grade match referee Meenakshi Mangla, it has been a long journey which started as a player. In domestic matches, referee is also a third umpire. “It is a tough job. Though, I am sitting in a room, I have to multitask,” she said.
Their journey has not without familiar hiccups.
“We have faced taunts, but we are respected too. It was not easy to establish ourselves as equal to men. It is no longer the same. People’s mindset has changed. BCCI has been good to us, and since officiating is a full time profession, we are not worried about our future. We have no reasons to complain,” said Meenakshi.