Leeds cricketer Zainab, 11, wants more girls to play the sport

TALENTED cricketer Zainab Patel has her sights firmly set on playing for England after excelling in her club and school teams.
Cricketer  Zainab PatelCricketer  Zainab Patel
Cricketer Zainab Patel

The 11-year-old, who plays with Shadwell Cricket Club, is encouraging more girls to get involved in the sport during this week’s Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week.

Zainab is bucking the trend after results of a new study released today revealed boys are far more likely to play sport outside of school hours.

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Zainab, of Shadwell, said: “When I was seven, me and my dad watched the T20 together and it made me want to play, so I started playing with him and then went to my local club Shadwell to ask if I could play.

Cricketer Zainab Patel.Cricketer Zainab Patel.
Cricketer Zainab Patel.

“I didn’t have any doubt in my mind about playing cricket – I was better than all the boys,”

She now plays twice a week for her club’s junior teams and also plays cricket for Rossett school in Harrogate.

A poll of 2,000 youngsters aged eight to 18 found boys are far more likely than girls to play sport outside of school hours.

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The poll, which was commissioned by Yorkshire Tea and cricket charity Chance to Shine, found just 57 per cent of girls currently play some kind of sport at a grassroots level outside of school or college, compared to 79 per cent of boys.

And while 45 per cent of young boys are part of a local sports team or club away from school, just 27 per cent of girls said the same.

Zainab said: “My school team was originally all boys and I approached them to ask if I could play and got selected for that team too.

“It’s made me feel more confident and I’ve met lots of new people - there are now some other girls in the team too, which is good.

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“I even introduced my best friend to it and she loves cricket now.

“I really think more girls should give it a try as it’s definitely not just for boys. They just need as much encouragement as boys to help boost their confidence.”

Ben Newbury, senior brand manager at Yorkshire Tea, said: “It is lovely to hear stories of girls like Zainab, who have a real passion for cricket and encouraging others to give it a try – she is a true inspiration.

“However, we know there are also lots of young girls who feel like they aren’t good enough to play or that sports such as cricket are just for boys and we want to change that perception and show that it truly is for all.”

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