Exclusive: The first Muslim Woman taking over 170 wickets in the last five years of playing cricket and with no intention of stopping yet!
Salma Bi, 27, the first Muslim woman in history to play for the Worcestershire county cricket women’s team and also the winner of the Asian women of achievement award in 2012 for her cricketing achievements. As a registered Haemodialysis nurse by day and sporting superstar by night, Salma has not only proven to be a success story but a true inspiration and role model to the young.
M: What has been your career highlights so far?
S: Representing a great sport as a Muslim female. As well as being a Leading wicket Taker in the Women’s Midland Leagues with 24 Wickets (88 Career) and Runner-up in my Club Teams with 39 Wickets (224 Career Wickets since 2005). I was also given the opportunity to play at lords representing Moseley Cricket Club Women vs. Japan a Tour game which will always bring back memories, playing alongside Ebony Rains-ford and Caroline Atkins under the captaincy of Number 1 Batswoman Clare Taylor.
Recently what came as a delightful surprise was when I got a call stating I was a finalist at the first ever Birmingham Sports Awards 2013, which took place Thursday 19th September at Edgbaston. I was honoured to go up on stage to receive the Finalist award for all Contributions to Sports presented by Ian Bell MBE for Sports Woman of the Year alongside World Triathlon Champion Jodie Stimpson and Paralympic Tennis Player Jordanne Whiley.
M: How many years have you played cricket?
S: I have played since I was ten and then club level since I was 15 so over twelve years professionally.
M: Who was your role model whilst growing up and how did you incorporate them into your work?
S: I began playing cricket aged 10 alongside my brothers and father. The sport started to influence me. During the World Cup Watching one of my role-models Shane Warne I wanted to implement the art and over time mastered the his great off-spin using my own unique unorthodox spin.
M: Where has your most successful match been played?
S: In 2012, I made an appearance for a T20 side and hit a best 34 not out in five overs with non-stop fours and sixes. I finished with career best figures of 5-13 off four overs for North Wales club Hawarden Park’s T20 team. Also in 2012, I took four wickets for Worcestershire for the first time. Sometimes all it takes is to get a little boost and the whole team will gain confidence.
M: What interested you into cricket did you find it challenging at first as Muslim women are often portrayed as weak objects in the media did you prove this was in fact the opposite?
S: I hope I did! As a young girl being talented and creative it caused quite a stir. I have been up against many barriers being Muslim – fitting in, not having the facility to practise and starting at an older age, but I have no regrets. Cricket has always helped me develop as a person. I believe it all comes down to commitment and passion. When I am taking a break from firing the line I am supporting my younger sister Anisha, who represents Warwickshire under 17′s county side. My other younger sister Aisha was recently selected for West Bromwich Albion Football Club’s Scholarship Programme. I am proud of them and believe that the stereotype of Muslim Women in the media casts a falsehood of opinionated bias.
M: How do you encourage young Muslim women in the local community to get involved?
S: I am the founder of cricket coaching venture Believe in M.A.D (Making a Difference). Along with Gemma Smith, we have hosted the first-ever 10-hour and 20-hour women’s non-stop futsal marathons, as well as the Women’s Indoor Cricket T10 World Cup during 2012. These three big events took place in Birmingham and we had a fantastic response from young girls.
Not only did these events help girls get into sports, they also educated them about charities was raised for. Running an event without any funding, I managed to raise over a £1,000 each for The National Autistic Society and Mencap Disability.
The reason for organising these events was two-fold – raise money for deserving causes and encourage female participation in sport.
M: When it comes down to careers you have chosen is it hard juggling the two?
S: When I am not performing, coaching, umpiring or hosting big world record attempts, I enjoy working as a full time haemodialyisis renal adult nurse in a Birmingham hospital at the main renal unit which delivers care to in and out-patients.
Working as a qualified nurse for over three years, has proven two vital careers can be juggled and combined in a way that not only have an impact on my life but for others around me.
M: As you have made previously made history, did there become pressure to perform your utmost best?
S: It’s not always the norm for an Asian girl to participate in any form of sports outside school hours or above the age of 16. So breaking out of that barrier and focusing on cricket has made me perform at the best of my standards. Now I not only play cricket for women’s teams, but I also turn out regularly for men’s sides in the Birmingham area. I believe this has happened through putting hard work in. I don’t want to stop yet so I believe I need to carry on performing at my utmost best.
M: If you were allowed to pursue another career what would it be and why?
S: I love a bit of basketball and Hockey but Look forward to playing Futsal and Football during the training season.
M: What do you think about today’s Muslim women?
I feel there are more and more role models to look up to, The Iran Futsal Team, Laila Ali Muslim Athletics, Asian Cricket women’s Squads and Muslim Organisations. However there is a big lack in the exposure of highlighting these women. We need to encourage each and every one and work alongside more Muslim Organisation, I was recently contacted by the Muslim Sports Organisation to become an ambassador, we need more networking and if bigger teams can support the prolific athletics it creates more interest.