More than 160 players from across the UK participated in the Bhakti Cup – a national community indoor women’s cricket tournament organised by BAPS Charities at Harrow Leisure Centre on Sunday 7 April 2019.
This was the first women’s cricket tournament to be organised by BAPS, and was inaugurated by Sangeeta Theivendra, a talented cricketer and City Programme Executive (London) at the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and Sharon Eyers, Cricket Development Manager at Middlesex Cricket.
A signed cricket bat from His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, and the ICC Women’s World Cup trophy granted by the ECB were displayed to commemorate the occasion.
The opening ceremony included the reading of blessings from Mahant Swami Maharaj and prayers for the spirit of teamwork and unity to prevail. Sangeeta Theivendra addressed the participants with words of motivation: “Determination, perseverance and passion are the three key ingredients that have helped women to achieve so much in every arena.” She also shared her cricketing journey and spoke of her passion for cricket. Sharon Eyers, recognised as the first woman to secure a job a county cricket club, elaborated on the core values of the game and the spirit with which it should be played.
The competition began in earnest thereafter. Vocal support and encouragement from spectators echoed throughout the playing area as they cheered every run and wicket enthusiastically.
The teams exhibited a very high standard of cricket throughout the tournament. The final brought together Brent and Birmingham where Brent prevailed victorious in an evenly contested match, claiming the first Bhakti Cup trophy.
The tournament proved to be an overwhelming success which encouraged youths and adults leading busy lifestyles to engage in some healthy activity and helped foster positive community relations. Many inspiring stories of women juggling their professional and family lives to attend practices and develop their technical cricketing skills provided a testimony of the commitment and passion with which the tournament was received.
Rakhee Shah, one of the organisers of the event, said, “It’s thanks to all the players and supporters, many of whom travelled long distances to take part, that the tournament was such a wonderful success. We’re especially grateful for all the support of Neasden Temple [BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London] for helping organise the tournament and encouraging so many women to get involved.”