The University of South Florida in Tampa is home to the first-known collegiate women’s cricket team, captained by Indian American sportswoman Ankita Ajith Deshpande.
The USF Women’s Cricket Club was established in 2015, and currently consists of undergraduate and graduate students from seven nations: India, Guyana, Nigeria, Mauritius, Egypt, Ecuador, and Sicily. The team is accredited by the American Cricket Federation.
The USF women’s cricket club was founded by Deshpande – who formerly captained the women’s U-19 state level cricket team in India – Delisa Harry and Vasudha Prithipaul, with support from Roshni Chasmawala and the USF Men’s cricket club, which also gave the women some initial training to compete in a few games each year. Deshpande is the most experienced player on the team, having played for six years. A statement released by the ACF noted that Deshpande hopes to eventually play with the USA Women’s cricket team.
The team recently received training from veteran Indian cricket coach Jatin Patel, who also helped the team coach local school kids in the sport that is still relatively unknown to most Americans.
Patel, the director of coaching for ACF, said of the USF women’s cricket club: “It’s just amazing that the USF women’s team is a true universal team with complete diversity as players are from different parts of the world – including a few non cricket playing countries – and working together to become very competitive team through regular practices and trainings.”
Patel said he was excited by the team’s interest in teaching the sport to other kids. “Watch out for these ladies from the USF camp as they have huge desire to do well in women’s cricket. I will not be surprised if one or more go extra mile to become great coaches down the road,” said Patel.
Deshpande thanked coach Patel in a statement released by ACF. "It was a great opportunity to have coaching from Jatin Patel for our women's cricket team where he executed basic cricket drills which were effective and useful for the entire team.”
“I would like to thank Jatin Patel for sharing his knowledge about the game. We had productive time training with him,” said Deshpande.
The ACF Coach Certification Program is now established in 24 states, with Level 2 & 1 coaches as well as Level 1 instructors. The program was launched in May 2014 for the Level 1 and June 2015 for the Level 2. As of Nov. 21, 172 Level 2 coaches and 342 Level 1 coaches have been trained and certified through ACF’s Coach Certification program.