01:00PM, Monday 13 December 2021
Raabia was presented with her award by ex-cricketer Jane Powell
Slough Cricket Club’s Raabia Akhter has been awarded the Cricket Coach of the Year for Berkshire for her commitment to the women’s game, writes Ben Hart.
Raabia received the prize from former England player and coach, Jane Powell, at an England and Wales Cricket Board awards ceremony in Derby last weekend.
After setting-up one-off cricket festivals four years ago, Raabia sought to increase regular female participation and so was appointed Girls and Ladies Co-Ordinator at Slough Cricket Club.
This year she was presented as Slough’s first ever Club Person of the Year, having coached and helped facilitate weekly sessions for 45 girls between the ages of 9 and 13.
“It meant a lot to be recognised and breaks down the stereotype that it’s not just men running cricket clubs,” she said.
“My job isn’t to just teach technique, it’s for me to inspire them so they believe they can achieve their dreams. Mental health is very important and not all the girls have a stable background, so it’s about providing a place where they feel like they can be themselves and be happy.”
In addition to the number of young girls who have taken up cricket, this year saw the inception of an adult women’s team who compete in an indoor league.
Other clubs have been playing for far longer and possess vastly more experienced coaches, so Raabia was delighted that both the ladies and under-13 hard-ball teams reached the finals of their respective leagues.
More importantly, however, Raabia believes that Slough is a club which provides a range of benefits for people of all ages and abilities.
“For the girls we target life skills, teamwork, communication and building confidence. Then the ladies benefit from the social aspect and the fitness.”
The double-award winner is now hoping to foster better links with the wider community and to facilitate leadership programmes for younger club members which provide pathways into coaching.
“There has been so much more interest over the last few years and I think it’s because we have created an environment where people feel comfortable. This is just the start of the club’s journey.”
Maidenhead and Slough travellers have long been waiting for the arrival of Crossrail to whisk them quickly into central London.