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Cricket Hong Kong

Kowloon Cantons women hope to spark Hong Kong cricket revolution at T20 Blitz

The 10 co-owners of the franchise are made up of eight women and one man, plus a company, and they have the interests of the local game at heart

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2016, 5:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2016, 6:47pm

Few took Urvashi Sethi seriously when she wanted to own a franchise at the DTC Mobile Hong Kong T20 Blitz – but now she is part of a group who hope to play a key role in a Hong Kong cricket revolution.

If this T20 tournament is successful, can you imagine what it can do for cricket in Hong Kong?
Urvashi Sethi

After chatting with her husband and homemaker friend Batul Rosha, and roping in former Hong Kong international Rahul Sharma, their dreams took root and excitement started to build among close pals who wanted to come on board.

Within weeks, they had grown to nine people and a company – eight of them women. And soon they were proud owners of the Kowloon Cantons franchise who will compete in the May 28 and 29 tournament at Mission Road.

“At the start no one took me seriously and I didn’t even know how seriously I took myself,” said Sethi, whose sons play cricket and one of them, Kabir, is in the Cantons line-up.

“After we won the bid, we talked to people who loved the game, basically women whose husbands played the sport, had some involvement in cricket, are avid followers or mothers whose kids play.

“At the beginning we thought, are we doing this for a laugh? But just think about it, if this T20 tournament is successful, can you imagine what it can do for cricket in Hong Kong?”

Three other franchises taking part in the competition are: Rude Bar Island Warriors, Hung Hom JD Jaguars and Lantau GII Galaxy Riders.

The teams are made up of Hong Kong’s elite and Premier League players plus two overseas players. Cantons, who are sponsored by City Forex, also boast in their line-up big-hitting Hong Kong player Babar Hayat, player-coach Ryan Campbell, HKCA chief executive Tim Cutler and exciting 16-year-old Nepalese spinner Sandeep Lamichhane as one of their overseas players.

I’ll chat with the coach and captain but nothing majorly on the on-field side, that’s entirely up to the coach and captain
Rahul Sharma

Sethi herself has a background in sport, having represented India in golf at the 1998 Asian Games and the prestigious Queen Sirikit tournament.

The other members of the ownership group are: Devika Virmani, Aparna Kapur Shankar, Deepti Malik, Priya Subberwal, Gita Mohan Bharwaney, Uzma Saleem Rizwan and contemporary Indian art company Shakti Ltd.

US-based Rizwan said of her involvement: “Being married to a cricketer, I understand the passion for the game and when I heard about our team, I felt that we had to be a part of something so wonderful.”

Sethi said the group have genuine hopes that their efforts would help in the development of cricket in the city.

“The reason we did this was to encourage cricket in Hong Kong, we have no other reason to do it,” she said. “We don’t look at it as charity either. Whatever we invested we have no interest in getting it back.

“What we are getting in return is owning a team and being involved with cricket at a level we never thought we could.

“With home-grown tournaments like this, it will help grow the sport. There will be a larger number of players, more chances to get good players, more interest, more money and facilities, so the quality has to improve.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful opportunity.”

Sharma said he jumped at the chance to work with the Cantons franchise.

“I was reading about it and was hopeful someone would call,” said Sharma. “Urvashi was first off the blocks and I almost instantly said yes.

“Like any of the other co-owners, I’m there to add some value, maybe on the cricketing side. I’ll chat with the coach and captain but nothing majorly on the on-field side, that’s entirely up to the coach and captain.”