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The City of Pearls Has a New Set of Gems to Offer - Its Sporting Queens

If the city’s sporting greats were men like Pullela Gopichand, Mohammad Azharuddin, VVS Laxman and CK Nayudu, the city now boasts of being home to female superstars like – PV Sindhu, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, Mithali Raj to name a few.

Sakshi Khanna | CNN-News18

Updated:July 23, 2017, 1:22 PM IST
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The City of Pearls Has a New Set of Gems to Offer - Its Sporting Queens
While the male stars of the current generation are being looked up to, it is their female counterparts who have been inspirational to young girls in the city. (Representational image from Reuters)
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Hyderabad: The city of Nizams and Biryani, is now on the global map for a different reason – producing India’s best female sporting talent.

If the city’s sporting greats were men like Pullela Gopichand, Mohammad Azharuddin, VVS Laxman and CK Nayudu, the city now boasts of being home to female superstars like – PV Sindhu, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal and Mithali Raj to name a few.

While the male stars of the current generation like Parupalli Kashyap and Kidambi Srikanth are being looked up to, it is their female counterparts who have been inspirational to young girls in the city.

In 1992, current India women cricket team captain Mithali Raj was the only girl at St John’s cricket academy. In 2017, the camp has about 20 girls dreaming of representing their country. “Today, there is a dedicated girl’s camp. The girls play against the boys and the latter do not have it easy. During summer vacations, the number of girls choosing to come to our camp goes up considerably. Mindsets have changed. More girls are picking up the bat and their families are supporting them,” said coach Jyothiprasad, who was Mithali’s first mentor.

12-year-old Trisha already has her eyes set on being the world’s best cricketer. “I started playing when I was 4-years-old. Mithali didi and the entire team have been a huge inspiration to me. I have played in the under-16, under-19, south zone under-19 and the under-23 team. One day I will represent India,” said the all-rounder.

trisha cricketer with coach Jyothiprasad

Trisha (C) with coach Jyothiprasad (L) and coach RSR Murthy

Talking to CNN-News18 on the changing order, Mithali’s father Dorai Raj said, “We definitely do see a change. The girls in our colony are closely following every cricket match and come to us to talk about the result and Mithali’s performance. If they dedicate themselves and practice hard enough, the girls can play for India.”

Recently, as part of a campaign against gender discrimination in India, Sania Mirza's father Imran Mirza said he was proud to be known as Sania's dad.

"My daughters chose their own careers. Completely their own decision. In 1991, a 5-year-old Sania used to accompany me to the tennis court. Her cousins bullied her and told her that it was a game for boys. Over the years many people came to me to tell me that Sania should not be playing a sport but we did not share their view,” said the proud father.

As sports takes over the city of pearls, its young women are the ones leading the charge.

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| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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