By Ron Howells •
Published: 19 Jul 2021 • 8:00
Barcelona plans to spend €1.2m to build it's first-ever cricket pitch. image: Twitter
Barcelona plans to spend €1.2m to build it’s first-ever cricket pitch thanks to women’s push.
Cricket is not a sport one associates with Spain, however, there will soon be a connection when Barcelona builds a cricket ground thanks to a surge in public support for a women’s team.
Barcelona asked it’s citizens last month to choose an initiative as part of a 30 million euro investment package which includes new facilities and improvements to public spaces. The plan to spend 1.2 million euros on a cricket pitch finished first in the voting among 184 proposals.
The big win for a sport largely unknown in Spain is thanks to a campaign led by a group of young women, mostly first-generation Spaniards, some of them of Indian and Pakistani origin that live in the working-class suburbs of Barcelona.
What started by word of mouth soon generated momentum once it caught the attention of the local media.
“It’s a dream come true to have won the vote after all the effort we put in. We spent weeks encouraging people to vote for our project so we could win. And in the end, we were able to get the first cricket field in Barcelona for us to play and train.” said cricket player Nadia Mustafa, an 18-year-old university student.
Besides the pitch, the project includes changing and storage rooms, lights, and other amenities that are specific to cricket.
Barcelona has a large Pakistani and Indian community- there are some 400 cricketers in Barcelona divided among 25 men’s and women’s teams.
However, at present, the city doesn’t have facilities for this still exotic sport. Instead, an empty parking lot or field has to do for those looking to show their batting and bowling skills.
This is all about to change as players will soon have their own pitch, right next to Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium on a hill overlooking the city.
“We are happy. Soon, in a year or a year and a half, we will have our own field here in Barcelona. We won’t have to think of getting cars and means of transportation to play elsewhere. We will have our field here,” said team coach Shahbaz Shauqad, a 30-year-old greengrocer.
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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!.
Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.
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