GEORGE TOWN, January 14 – Sports is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women. Recognizing the importance of gender equality in sports, Penang Cricket Association (PCA) as the governing body for cricket in Penang is taking continous actions to ensure women empowerment is enabled through the development of the first women cricket team project in Penang since June 2022.
Under the structured training programme of PCA, the cricket players whom are mostly 14 or 15 years old school girls trained under the guidance of head coach Mr. Rakesh Jeeva Kumar. The girls hail from schools around Bukit Mertajam like SMK Tinggi Bukit Mertajam, SMK Convent Bukit Mertajam, SMK Machang Bubuk, and SMK Bukit Mertajam. These schools were also part of PCA’s focus for women’s cricket development in Penang.
The team which is also fondly called as Penang Pantheress, started consistent training sessions right after the COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions were lifted. Coincidentally, the Malaysian Cricket Association has also announced the organization of the inaugural MCA T20 Women’s Interstate Championship 2022 that was scheduled to took place around Klang Valley from the 27th December 2022 – 1st January 2023. With the tournament set as the next goal, the team intensified their training with centralized training sessions and participating in friendly and social matches around Penang and Kedah.
The team further strengthened their squad by including three players from the national squad as seniors to guide them during the tournament. Geared with customized equipments for the team which was partly funded by YB Chong Eng (ADUN Padang Lalang) who is a strong advocate of women empowerment and YB Steven Sim (MP Bukit Mertajam), Penang Pantheress made it to the finals of the tournament that was participated by a total of 9 states in Malaysia. In the finals, Penang Pantheress gave a tough fight but lost to the more experienced and the tournament
favourites; Kuala Lumpur. Although this was the first time Penang Pantheress participating in a national-level tournament, PCA is very proud and happy with the team’s performance especially when our players managed to also grab two out of the three individual tournament awards: 1) Player of the Series (Ainna Hamizah Hashim) and 2) Best Batter (Wan Julia Wan Mohd Rosdi). The achievement in this tournament gives PCA the assurance and confidence to continue the planned development programmes for the “Penang Pantheress” project.
This team’s success would not have been possible without the strong collaboration and cooperation between PCA and JPN Penang, Penang State Sports Council, the schools and teachers of the players as well as their parents. Another important stakeholder in this recipe of success is SK Stowell’s Headmaster, Mr. Ismail Hamid who has been very supportive in allowing the team to utilize the school facilities for this development project as well as to promote the involvement of his teachers as manager and coach of the Penang Pantheress team. PCA would like to also thank all the supporters and fans of Penang Pantheress for the continuous and overwhelming support received during and after the tournament.