Red Bull Campus Cricket: The bridge between female cricketers and their dreams
A motivational factor for the girls who played the finals this year was the presence of Smriti Mandhana and Snehal Pradhan.
Updated - Jun 22, 2022 12:00 pm
Red Bull has not just established itself as an energy drink brand but has also emerged as the platform where young and budding cricketers from colleges and universities can compete to make it big on a global stage. To promote the sport and to provide the young gen cricketers with a stage to showcase their skills and abilities, the brand came up with Red Bull Campus Cricket in the year 2012.
Red Bull Campus Cricket hosts multiple colleges and university teams under one roof and helps the cricketers grow and develop in the one-of-a-kind tournament. The best part about the event is that it is not just limited to men’s cricket, as it also opens the doors wide open for the women cricketers in the past two editions of the tournament.
A platform that adds wings to female cricketers’ dream
While RBCC was started in 2012, the women’s edition of the tournament was launched in 2021, at a small level with just two teams – Rizvi College of Mumbai and Gargi College of Delhi. Both the teams directly competed in the finals in the first-ever women’s edition.
It was a big-shot deal for the girls as they got to play a proper Twenty-20 match at a stadium that has hosted multiple international matches, The IS Bindra Stadium (Punjab Cricket Association) in Mohali, Chandigarh. This year, the event grew even bigger as two more teams were added to the tournament.
At the Mullanpur Stadium in Mohali, two semi-finals of the big event featured a total of four teams – MGR Janaki College (Chennai), Rizvi College (Mumbai), Alfalah University (Delhi) and Marwari College (Ranchi). A motivational factor for the girls who played the finals this year was the presence of Smriti Mandhana and Snehal Pradhan.
Mandhana, a Red Bull brand ambassador and the vice-captain of the Indian national team, was at the event throughout the women’s finals and was hooked to the contest. Having the sensational Indian batter at the event cheered the players to do even better in the finals.
Mumbai, the defending champions, once again entered the finals, while Ranchi entered the big stage in their maiden outing. The game saw a terrific competition between the two teams and eventually witnessed Ranchi lifting the cup in style.
We got in touch with a few players and coaches of the teams that participated in the tournament. While every cricketer felt Red Bull had provided them with an opportunity to achieve more heights, the coaches felt that the platform helped a lot in the personal growth and development of every player.
Mr. Rajesh Sonawane, Director of Sports at Rizvi College Mumbai and the head coach, was happy that two new teams were added this season, and said that he wishes to see the tournament grow even bigger next year.
“First and foremost, the scope of women’s cricket is much lesser than men’s cricket. Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it seemed like the sport was not into existence. But Red Bull solved the needs of the players and RBCC, the tournament, was a blessing in disguise. Even amid such a crisis-like situation, they provided a platform for the girls and helped them to follow their dreams. The facilities here make us feel like we’re playing a tournament similar to the IPL,” he said.
“Having white-ball matches, and day-night matches give the players with the required exposure. I wish to see more teams added next year so that the girls get to play more matches, compete in the league stages like the boys and get to be a part of the extensive competition. Last year it was just two teams, this time there were four and as a result, the semi-final stage was unlocked. I hope next time there are eight so that the girls’ tournament is divided into group stages and they strive to achieve more,” he added.
Mumbai’s captain Riya Choudhari believes that RBCC has helped her immensely and just like her coach, she also wishes to see more teams joining next year.
“With the help of RBCC, we, the girls, are getting exposed to the professional arena. We are getting a sense of how the games take place at the global level. Women’s cricket in India is growing at a rapid pace and there have been many developments in the sport. Sadly, we could not win this year, but our team witnessed many new players joining and getting an opportunity, and I was one of them,” Riya said.
RBCC helping individuals realize their potential
Champions Ranchi’s head coach Arun Kumar Rai was on such a stage for the first time and expressed his gratitude to Red Bull for organizing the event at a national level as he said: “Red Bull provided a big platform for the new cricketers, who are just starting their journey. I experienced something very unique and different. The girls who play here grow like professionals and get an opportunity to try their hands at the district level. If they perform well there, they get to represent their state and then move upwards.”
The Ranchi skipper Shanti Kumari believes that with some players being experienced and some being new, the tournament helps them to grow as a unit.
“I’m thankful to Red Bull who provided us with this opportunity to come and represent our state at a national level because there is not much of women’s cricket happening around us and getting to be a part of the mega event gives a major boost to our confidence. We all gathered a couple of weeks ahead of the tournament and participated in a camp that was organized, which helped us practice more for the main event. RBCC had not just helped us get physically strong but also has helped us mentally as we now aim to prepare to play more games and move higher towards representing the country one day,” she said.
Apart from Ranchi, the Chennai team was another new entrant in the tournament. Being a whole new bunch of fresh faces, the players got a brand new experience of playing professional cricket. The head coach Selvarani believes that RBCC brought many players of different stature under one banner and helped everyone learn something new from one another.
“This platform is very important to us because hard work will always lead to success, and RBCC helps us get there by providing what the players needed so they could play hard for their institution. Players benefit from talented individuals competing in games, and as a result, they adapt and refine their playing skills professionally,” she said.
The team skipper Deepika grabbed the opportunity to the fullest and wishes to return in an even better manner next year. “We, the players, are working hard to gain a decent platform to show our skills, and RBCC assists us in reaching the top level of gaming opportunities. It provides us a platform to showcase our skillsets and helps us realize that one day we would also have wings to fly high.”