The fledgling national women’s cricket program received a boost last week when Kitchener-based Monali Patel was selected as “One to Watch” by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women & Sport (CAAWS) which announced the 2013 Most Influential Women in Sport & Physical Activity list.
This is the first time that a female associated with cricket has been recognized by the national non-profit organization dedicated to creating an equitable sport and physical activity system in which girls and women are actively engaged as participants and leaders.
Evan Bjorkenstam, the Region of Waterloo Cricket Association president who launched a grassroots program last year to introduce youths to the sport, nominated Patel for the honour.
“She’s probably one of the biggest driving forces behind women’s cricket in Canada,” he said. “Besides being a key member of the national team, she’s committed to teaching the sport at the grassroots level with a view to getting as much people as possible playing the game. That’s a good thing.”
Born in Kenya, Patel came to Canada 13 years ago and started playing cricket after dropping off her older brother to practice.
“I was not attracted to cricket back in the country of my birth because it’s not popular among women,” said the University of Guelph graduate. “I tried the sport here and found I liked it very much and there has been no looking back.”
Patel has been an integral part of the national program for the past seven years after making her debut against Argentina at age 18. An opening batsman who bowls off-spin, she played a pivotal role in Canada’s Twenty/20 victories over the United States in the 2010 Americas championship.
“Monali has a decent understanding of the game and she’s very competitive and ambitious,” said national women’s coach George Codrington. “I know she has an interest in coaching and helping to develop the game here and she is going to do well in those areas.”
Patel is on the verge of completing the 12-month Cricket Australia Level 3 coaching certification. She did the six-day residential course in Fort Lauderdale last year.
A member of Tranzac Sports & Cultural Club for the past nine seasons, Patel started a women’s academy for females interested in learning to play the sport. Beginning on January 18, the weekly Saturday sessions will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Qasra Sports, 185 Carlingview Dr. Unit 9 in Etobicoke.
“The academy is open to all women and girls regardless of club affiliation,” she said. “It’s for individuals who are new to the sport or those just looking to increase their skill level.”
The cost of each training session is $10.
Individuals can call (519) 240-4901 email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.