Diviya: The Only Girl to Play in the Men’s League Opens a Cricket Academy in Singapore

“As a kid, I was always playing cricket with my cousins who were mostly boys. My uncle used to captain the national team so his sons started playing at a very young age, and I remember how they would tease me and say that girls shouldn’t be playing cricket.

To prove a point, I actually picked it up. I was always competing with the boys, and because my cousins were cricketers and constantly talking about cricket – be it during meals or family gatherings – it was very easy for me to learn and understand the sport.

What I personally love about cricket is how you constantly have to improve. I might score 100 runs today, but I might get zero runs tomorrow. There’s no such thing as ‘I’m good enough’. That need to brush up my game is what keeps me working hard all the time.

In 2006, when Singapore decided to have a women’s national team, I seized the opportunity to be part of it. That’s how my sporting career in cricket began. Today, I captain the team.

But women’s cricket isn’t very big in Singapore. Once I felt too comfortable in that scene, I began to wonder what was next for me. There were no travelling plans, so I thought about playing in the local men’s league.

I knew the guys were a lot bigger and stronger than I was, and the only way I could get into the league was through fitness and skill. So I started training really hard. I’d wake up at four every morning to meditate and pray before starting my day at the gym.

When the Singapore Cricket Club asked if I was available to play for their division one day, I just grabbed the opportunity. They had to bend the rules for me to play. It paid off because I ended up playing a very crucial role in winning the match.

Ever since then, I’ve been the only woman to play in the men’s league. I’ve been quite fortunate because I’ve not experienced any gender discrimination. The men treat me equally like I’m one of them, and they’re constantly pushing and encouraging me during training.

Of course, when I’m bowling to men who are batting, some of them want to take me on because I’m a girl. Sometimes I get the better of them, sometimes it’s vice versa. It’s okay; it’s competition anyways, and I’m very competitive by nature.

In 2016, I got the opportunity to play at the SEA Games, but just three weeks before the tournament, I broke my toe. One of the boys hit my toe during training and the doctor told me that I shouldn’t be competing.

But it was the SEA Games; I was going to participate! I just bit the bullet and plunged in. I wasn’t going to let the team down anyways. We didn’t win any medals, but we definitely improved a lot. We stuck together as a team and had each other’s back, so it was a good experience.

Outside of cricket, I wanted to become a doctor. I had already done my degree in clinical science, and to practise medicine, the only thing left to do was a post-grad programme. But my mum is a single mother and we had financial constraints, so I had to let that dream go.

When I didn’t have a job, I thought about what I could do. I started writing down problems I personally faced as a cricketer, like how I didn’t have proper coaching and didn’t know where to train initially. These were issues other cricketers were dealing with as well.

One day, I randomly met Chetan Suryawanshi – the Singapore cricket men’s captain and my coach and mentor – at the gym and told him that we should create an app. Coincidentally, he had also discussed with his wife Payal the night before about creating a cricket app, so he said let’s do it.

Now, we’ve got a team to help develop this app. It goes hand-in-hand with our cricket academies. Through the app, you can register to join the academy, book one-to-one coaching and so much more. It’s basically a one-stop solution for all cricketers.

My company is called Sports Kingdom because it’s not just cricket that I want to tap on. I love sports generally. I’m sure there are other athletes who are looking for job opportunities. We want to go global, and our vision is to give 20,000 people jobs by which we will be helping 20,000 families.

Of course there are challenges. I can’t remember what a social life is. I’m working from the second I wake up to the time I go to bed, but I don’t usually get stressed. I know there’s a solution to everything.

I’ve got a good team and support from many people in my journey. Our Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong, for example, gave me advice during the SEA Games. When he found out that I had a fractured toe, he advised me on how to stay positive and lead the team.

I also met an Indian actor and politician named Sarath Kumar who’s been very helpful when I was in India to grow my business. He’s been willingly mentoring me and giving me advice. When I went to India for the launch, he took care of everything for me.

I’ve been taught by my mom and grandparents to not worry about yourself and always be there for others first, and these political leaders helped show me that.

We can get so obsessed with ourselves in the pursuit of our dreams and goals, but no matter how busy I am, I’ll always try to make time for anyone who needs help or a listening ear.

Focusing on the process is also important to me; the results are secondary. I’ve learnt to keep working hard, have faith and trust the process. Whether it’s sports or business, believing in ourselves and our journey will help us achieve our goals.” – Diviya, 32

Interview by: Arman Shah

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  1. Aunty Mary

    I’m so proud of you Diviya… Still remember how energetic you and your cousins when you were a child… playing cricket everywhere, at the park, front yard and even inside the house… cracking window glass and break things… miz those days…..

    • Krishna Prasad

      Wow, you are a role model Divya. Wish you all the very best in Life.

  2. Shoba Anne

    Way to go girl…hugs n muachs

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