UAE women’s cricket captain, Chaya Mughal, talks about teaching, leadership, and the growth of the women’s game in the UAE.
Zushan Hashmi: What has the experience been like to represent and eventually lead the UAE women’s cricket team?
Chaya Mughal: Playing cricket in UAE is always exciting and very special to me. Getting to play internationally as a part of UAE team was like a dream coming true to me. I can still feel the goose bumps when I recall that moment. I was nervous and excited at the same time. Nervous because it was my first international debut and excited because I was a part of it. It is a great honor to lead, and being a captain of the national side this honor comes with a great level of responsibility. As a captain it’s incredibly important to display positive body language and to be able to inspire confidence within your team mates. To summarize I am currently enjoying my role in projecting authority and confidence towards my team mates.
You are a teacher by trade, and the game is obviously a passion. Do you still teach? If so, is it easy to juggle both careers?
Cricket is of course my passion and cannot resist myself from playing. It’s indeed bliss to be a cricketer as I love this format of game. The confidence and excitement of playing cricket is always the source for my endless motivation and social success. Cricket has taught me many lessons and the one I remember always is, “A hero is someone who knows how to hang on one minute longer”. This I, apply in all the walks of my life. Yes, I am still a teacher and I believe teaching is the most responsible job as we are laying the foundations for future. Being a sports player, I include my play ways of teaching which in turn help the children to come out of their comfort zone and do something variably different. In short, something that you love to do, you can always find time for it. No matter how busy I get at times with my teaching stuff, I always manage to practice and play matches without getting tired and affected and I think that’s the key.
What has been the highlight of your cricketing career so far, and why?
- Scoring Highest partnership for the 1st wicket (121 runs) against China in Thailand Women’s T20 Smash
- The same match these were my bowling figures:
- Second highest run-getter from UAE in the ICC Qualifiers 2018.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in playing the game? (Opportunities, facilities, games, etc.)
From desert to a cosmopolitan country, women’s cricket is flourishing in UAE day by day. Initially, I thought that people were not serious about the Women’s cricket in UAE. Considering the fact that a large majority of expatriates reside in the country, balancing work, studies and other commitments were always challenging. However gradually when the team started performing it came into an existence and people started recognizing UAE women’s cricketers. More and more girls started turning up and the competition bars were also raised. Facility wise we are well equipped as Emirates Cricket Board ensures that every provision for the games/practice sessions are met. The major attraction was the special edition of ECB women D10 exhibition game which was broadcasted live & this itself concludes the level of opportunities provided by Emirates Cricket Board are in ample.
Does having the ICC headquarters and facilities like the ICC academy help with the development of the game there?
ICC – The home of the UAE’s National Team. There is no doubt ,when it comes to cricket there’s no better place to train than at the ICC Academy in Dubai. Keeping the weather conditions in mind sometimes it gets difficult to train outdoors however considering the world-class facilities and high standards indoors is incomparable to any facility across the world. This is certainly helping and fostering UAE women’s team in developing Cricket.
The vast majority of, if not all, international cricketers in the UAE teams are expats, what, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge in growing the game amongst the Emirati population and why?
The game is growing rapidly amongst all women in the UAE. ECB’s National Development Program play a vital role in shaping young talents which also includes taking the game into local (Emirati) schools and is recognized by the countries education system KHDA as well. Unfortunately at the moment it is on hold due COVID.
How do you think this can change?
I believe it’s all about providing a right platform to players which enables them to express their talents & play with more interest. In my opinion Emirates Cricket Board has been very instrumental in growing the game of cricket in this region as we have many young talented girls taking up this sport. The future looks very exciting and bright for all the upcoming cricketers.
As the captain, and a teacher, I can only guess, but I assume you work with a lot of the younger athletes, and help mentor them? Can you tell us a little bit about this?
Both the roles help me nurture the qualities of a good leader/coach. Working with young and dynamic athletes is challenging and at the same time interesting as they can be shaped quickly. Effective communication helps in building trusts and provides opportunity to improve. I thoroughly enjoy my roles.
What’s next on the agenda for UAE women’s cricket, with COVID hurting all the growth around women’s sport in general?
Currently we are aiming for the next World cup qualifiers and working hard towards it. As a unit, our focus is on consistent performance and we always want to stay prepared for any challenges.