KARACHI: The Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Neil Hawkins, isn't a cricketer but he thoroughly enjoyed his outing here at the backyard of the iconic National Stadium whereyoung schoolgirls were involved in an exciting finale.
"It is a pleasure to see how passionate they are and how much they enjoy this game," Hawkins told 'The News' on the sidelines of the final featuring under-15 girls from Ismail Academy and Nasra Public School.
The Australian High Commission supported a girls' cricket clinic and tournament in Karachi in collaboration with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Jalaluddin Cricket Academy (JCA), and Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA).
Present at the occasion were a number of cricket stars including Pakistan batting legend Javed Miandad. “The Australian High Commission has been sponsoring girls’ cricket in Pakistan since 2016,” Hawkins said. “We began with a single annual tournament in Islamabad but then expanded to Lahore and in Karachi.”
“Our countries share a passion for cricket, and a key interest of Australia in Pakistan is to support gender equality so we’re very pleased to support this event,” Hawkins said. “Cricket and other sports can help tear down barriers and stereotypes. Every time these girls hit a boundary or make a catch, they are taking a step towards greater equality.”
The girls attended a four-day coaching clinic in the lead-up to the competition. "We are very pleased to have the participation of first-class cricket coaches as well as the players of the visiting Australian Over 40s Cricket team, who helped to build confidence, foster team spirit, and encourage the girls," the High Commissioner said.
He thanked the schools – Nasra Public School, Alpha Girls School, Ismail Academy and The Future Academy – for joining the event and paid tribute to the contribution made by JCA, PCB and KCCA. Leading coach Jalaluddin, a former Test pacer and now JCA Chairman, congratulated the Australian High Commission on the initiative.
“As pioneer in cricket coaching, we always support grassroots cricket development. We hope this initiative with the Australian High Commission for the Girls Cricket Cup will go a long way in developing women's cricket in Pakistan,” Jalal said.