A Palestinian who grew up in Kuwait practices her love of cricket while wearing a headscarf

With her new colleagues starting to warm up before training at the ICC Academy, Maryam Omar does not care that her interview lasts a little longer.

The 29-year-old versatile player plays for the South Coast Savers, one of six teams in the new, T20 Cricket Championship franchise played in Dubai.

This meant that 15 cricketers from different regions of the world had to be under pressure, some of whom would be prominent on television, others much less.

In the pre-training conversation, she speaks with unbridled enthusiasm – as well as a clear Australian voice – on a wide range of topics.

From its introduction to the sport beyond its mainstream scope. About a family not completely sold out on this exotic sport. To leave home and travel to the other side of the world to pursue his passion.

And even for freshness and quick evacuation, a sports veil is visible under the sapphire hat.

“For the sport, I like it a little bit tighter so I can run and dive, do all those cool things,” Maryam said. “It is also breathable, so it is not overheated.

“The veil is based on religion. Some girls take them of their own choosing. I decided to wear it when I was 15 and my parents were very supportive.

“It means I had to adapt to the environment. It’s very hot in Kuwait and we play outside. We do not yet have indoor facilities. I got used to the temperatures and managed my energy and fluid levels.

“The positive thing about the hijab is that I do not get sunburn. The only thing is that I have a wrinkle around my face. When I take it off, I really have white ears and a brown face.

The FairBreak Invitational, which ends at the Dubai International Stadium on May 15, is a unique cricket tournament. It is indisputable to claim that it is the most diverse competition in the sport.

The 90s were drawn from more than 30 countries, with all cricket fields represented in remote regions such as Botswana, Rwanda and Bhutan.

Mariam, a top tour around the world on her own, is a Palestinian who was born and bred in Kuwait and is now the country she represents as an international cricketer.

She first learned cricket at a Pakistani school in the country and chose to complete a master’s degree in engineering in Australia after falling in love with the sport.

Her first experience with the game was in 2010, when she was 17, after the Kuwait National Cricket Board targeted a number of schools in an effort to attract girls to play.

“Good luck, mom [Salwa] She was in the same school. “

“My sports teacher came to tell me that Kuwait cricket is looking for girls to play in the U.19 Asian Cup, and I said: What is cricket?

“I have previously done other sports such as basketball, swimming and martial arts. My mother just said, “Try it. Why not? You might one day play for the national team.”

“I got sidetracked and was the only Arab on the side. I thought it might be hard for me to learn the game, but the coaches were very supportive.

“They helped me grow as a person and as a cricketer. Since then, I’ve loved the game and I’ve never looked back.

In a Pakistani school, she had a vague knowledge of cricket, but says it was initially difficult to understand the basics of the game.

“I used to see boys rolling their arms around, and I may have heard of cricket, but I never knew it was such a big deal,” she said.

“My sports teacher told me it is the national sport in Pakistan and everyone in Pakistan loves it.

“They approached my mother and said: ‘She is a very good athlete, you can transfer these skills to different sports, so that you can learn them very easily. “

“I said I would try. I played for the Kuwaiti national team for two years without really understanding the rules. I was actually just an expert defensive player, like, ‘Look at the ball, catch the ball.’

“And every time I grabbed a ball, I thought it was a little small for me. I celebrated every little thing – it was a wonderful thing, of course.

“It was just the beginning for me in cricket. I learned the rules as I went. Until now, I’m still learning. I was very lucky to be able to move to Australia myself. He helped me develop as a cricketer.

She realized that Australia was undoubtedly the number one cricket destination because her coaches in Kuwait – all Pakistani and Indian – were delighted.

His first sighting of women practicing the sport was televised at a cricket equipment store in Kuwait, which is set to host the Australian National T20 competition, WBBL.

“I was like, ‘There really is a franchise cricket all over the world. [for women]? It was then that a dream began to take shape for me. I wanted to play in Major Bash.

“At my level, of course, there are a lot of challenges and a lot of competition. But I’m in competition. I like to take on a challenge. It helps me move on. »

Cricket combined with engineering studies in Kuwait. When she had the opportunity to complete her studies at the Melbourne Campus of Central Queensland University, she seized the opportunity.

“My Father [Osama] She never wanted to give up on education. “

He said, ‘Look, you can do whatever you want. [cricket] As long as you keep a good college record and get the highest grades. I took it as a challenge.

“I was able to do it, got A-level and get a scholarship to continue my master’s studies in Australia. I said: God is talking to me now. That’s my cricket.

“I decided to take this opportunity to develop myself as a cricketer. I am very excited and crazy about cricket.

“I accepted it as a new challenge because I had to leave my family at home and start a new life in Australia. But I was very focused on the game. That’s what kept me going. ”

As a full-time engineer in Melbourne, she is grateful for her employers who supported her because she was able to return to the Middle East to play in Kuwait – as she did last month in Oman – and for the FairBreak tournament in Dubai. However, juggling and playing can be expensive.

“Of course there is no compromise on work, but I do my working hours and then I go to training,” she said.

“Because I am not a paid professional, there are times when I find it difficult to take time off and take care of myself.

“It is a challenge for any player at the associated level. The game will pay more than players as we make these concessions. We want to make it easy for players to get in.

She wants to lead the way, but not everyone wants to follow her yet. So far, his sisters – Amal, Zohour and Budur – have been conservative on the merits of cricket.

“None of them play sports – they actually think it’s for boys,” Maryam said.

“It is against social norms. Where we come from, sports are nothing. But things are changing. I try to push the boundaries as far as possible and move the obstacles, and be the change, because we have to change things.

“My sisters called me a tomboy, because it’s something we do not do at home. They like shopping, fashion and food. I’m a little different. Or really very different.

So when she told her family she was recruited to play for and against the world’s best players at the FairBreak tournament, she was greeted with ambivalence.

“They really love football, so I try to tell them it’s the equivalent of FIFA in football, but [father Osama] “You still do not call him,” she said.

“He’s like, ‘Yeah, whatever, just do what you want.’ But my mom is also very supportive, it’s a good thing to have a strict dad because I learned to manage my time and push my boundaries.

“My mother was always the one I had to talk to so that she could talk to my father to support me more. And while she does not understand the rules, she says, “If there’s a game, send in – just tie me up and I’ll watch.” I will support you no matter what.

Updated: 7 May 2022, 12:19

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