TEAM JOURNEYS: Maryam our 'Dream Big Ambassador'
At the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF), our goal is to make the wonderful game of cricket accessible for all – regardless of age, gender ethnicity or background.
One of our focus areas is to support and help break down barriers for South Asian women and girls in the game.
Introducing Maryam Ali, who recently stepped into the inspirational ‘Dream Big Ambassador role’ for our team.
Maryam’s role across Yorkshire is part of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) ‘Dream Big Desi Women’ programme – supporting South Asian women into the sport by tackling stereotypes and creating trained volunteer and coaching opportunities.
The initiative is focused on training women to allow them to go into their local community to deliver fun cricket sessions for children. This is supported with the programme taking an innovative approach by involving faith centers to provide comfortable and secure places for women and children.
The inspirational programme provides many opportunities for progression and opportunities to allow South Asian women to upskill and to promote a healthy lifestyle to themselves and those around them.
Maryam, who started with our team in June, is already thriving in her role to support South Asian women across Yorkshire and we caught up with her to find out more…
The main focus is to tear down stereotypes we have within the community – Maryam
Pictured, Maryam (centre – with orange cricket bat) taking part in a YCF Cardio Cricket session.
Maryam said family influence is what inspired her to get involved in this line of work.
“It was my sister who got me into the sporting world, she took down all the stereotypes in my household and made me aware that girls can play cricket,” she explained.
Maryam also added the importance of inspiring other people who look like her into the world of sport attracted her to the role.
She said: “What drew me most to this role was to see so many women who looked like me in the same space – I have never seen anything like that before so wanted to be somewhere like that more often.”
The programme and her role has been rewarding for Maryam in her short time at YCF, which has included Maryam meeting up with fellow ‘Dream Big Ambassadors,’ who are based in different areas around the country.
“It is a very rewarding programme for me, I have had the opportunity to train as a cricket coach, go on amazing trips and make people happy,” Maryam said.
She added: “I love it because everyone involved has similar morals, mindset and upbringing which for me, and the other women, means there is great camaraderie within the group.”
Helping to increase inclusivity in sport is Maryam’s main goal, and providing opportunities for everyone no matter who they are.
She said: “The main focus is to help tear down stereotypes we have within the community and across England.
“It is uncommon to see South Asian women in the sporting world, there are very few comfortable places for them to participate so someone like me can help give them opportunities.
“A main aim for me is to create hubs for South Asian women in cricket which will be a challenging but very worthy process.”
Maryam also spoke about some personal highlights in her role as Dream Big Ambassador so far – including an introductory weekend in the Lake District with fellow ambassadors.
She said: “Going to the Lake District was certainly and standout moment for me, there were lots of team building exercises, we also got together and spoke about our past experiences- this inspired me to make a change wherever I go.”
Maryam also added that one of the most rewarding elements of her new role is helping remove challenging barriers to introduce women into the game.
An example of this was when Maryam helped support a family – where there was a stereotyped belief from the father in the household who didn’t want his daughter to join as he viewed cricket as a ‘male’ sport.
Maryam was able to offer a safe space for the young woman and open many doors for her.
“I am proud that I was able to help her in this way,” she said.
Maryam added the importance of delivering the programme to help support mental health in communities across the region.
She said: “The programme supports improved the mental health of our volunteers and participants.
“On a personal note it has also improved my mental health – it has got me out the house and engaging with the community, like others involved it gives me a purpose.”
Regarding her future plans within the role, Maryam said: “I hope to make a change in at least one place – if I can make a positive change for one person, I have done my job successfully.
“I hope to showcase what the programme is and what we represent, it will happen one step at a time and I will have to considered everyone’s feelings, but I am confident I can continue to grow the programme and get more people involved.”
To find out more about our Dream Big Ambassador programme and to get involved, please click on the link below:
&/or contact Maryam on: