Game Changers

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Harmanpreet Kaur. Photo: Cricket World Cup - twitter.com/cricketworldcup

Cricket and football are popular in India and Norway. However, it is the men’s team that are getting most of the attention and support. The success of India’s women’s cricket team and the Norwegian women’s football team may be a game changer.

The debate regarding the unequal amount of attention given to men’s versus women’s football has regained interest in Norway due to the Women’s European Championship that started earlier this month. The public cheer for the women when it comes to handball and skiing, but when it comes football, the women have to play for emptier stadiums and with little media coverage.

This is a paradox since the Norwegian women's football team has since the dawn of the day been performing far better than the men. In this way, football differs from most other sports in Norway, where popularity is more based on results and performance. Some suggest that it is because of old fashioned attitude towards women and women’s football, other blame the media and the lack of coverage. 

A similar discussion can be found in India in the field of cricket and the Women’s World Cup. 

Mithali Raj, captain of Indian women's cricket team, believes that the women's cricket team has gained more attention only recently after the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) took steps to televise the home matches. “There is a lot of difference because we are not a regular on television. Now the BCCI has made an effort that the last two home series have been televised and social media has improved a lot of it, but there is a still a lot of catch-up to do in terms of recognition,” she says.

The captain also received attention when she was attending the opening dinner and media roundtable event on the eve of the World Cup and was asked who her favourite male cricketer was. “Do you ask the same question to a male cricketer? Do you ask them who their favourite female cricketer is?” Raj replied.

As for the latest match itself, India stunned defending champions Australia by 36 runs to secure a spot in final after an undefeated 171 by Harmanpreet Kaur. With their first win over six-time champions Australia, India will now play against tournament hosts England in the sold-out final on Sunday. We wish them, and the Norwegian players, the best of luck!