With a helmet on her head, pads tied tightly to both legs, and armed with her favourite cricket bat, 6-year-old Mehak Fathima from Kozhikode, Kerala, wakes up each morning to practice batting with her father.
Mehak, a student of Class 1 in Thodannur MLP School, started playing cricket eight months ago when she saw her father, Muneer, teaching her 3-year-old brother Mohamed the sport.
“Earlier, Mehak was not interested in sports, but when she saw Muneer teaching her brother, she went up to him and asked if he wasn’t teaching her because she was a girl. Muneer was quite shocked by her question and then realised she was also interested in learning to play cricket,” says Yousuf, Mehak’s uncle.
Muneer himself was a cricket player and had played for the University of Calicut when he was just 13 years old. However, he had to give up his dream of playing professionally as his family wanted him to pursue business. He was thrilled to see his daughter’s interest in cricket and began coaching her in November 2020. In no time, Mehak was able to master the sport, hitting the ball in all directions.
In June 2021, The Better India had shared a video of Mehak batting via her Instagram account and ever since her powerful shots have gone viral on social media. The post received attention from people from all walks of life – from industrialists to politicians and veteran cricket players.
“Are you not teaching me because I am a girl?”, six-year-old Mehak Fathima from Kozhikode asked her father after she saw him teaching her three-year-old brother. So he taught her too. Now, look at this little star!
VC: Mehak fathima
(mehak_fathima__ on Instagram) pic.twitter.com/mG9C3IyOhl
— The Better India (@thebetterindia) June 12, 2021
Anand Mahindra, the chairman of Mahindra Group, shared the video on Twitter and drew the attention of Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, Kiren Rijiju, to the child prodigy’s skills. Cricket stars celebrated young Mehak as well – Jemimah Rodrigues appreciated her batting skills and Mithali Raj offered assistance to her family to help train her. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also appreciated Mehak’s technique.
I keep getting forwards about kids around the globe being prodigies in soccer or basketball. Ok world, here’s our future superstar. @KirenRijiju let’s keep an eye on this young lady & not let her talent be wasted… https://t.co/3aSxDqOMmh
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) June 12, 2021
“I created an Instagram account and posted videos of my kids playing to give them more exposure. I never imagined that something like this would happen. There are quite a lot of talented people who often go unrecognised. This opportunity is so exciting for us and we are extremely happy that she is being recognised like this,” says Muneer. “We even got calls from Biju George, who trained cricketers like Sanji Samson, offering to help us with Mehak’s training,” adds Muneer.
She has both my support and blessings . All little girls keen to pursue the sport always have my blessings. Her parents can DM me regarding any assistance they need .
— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) June 13, 2021
When Mehak saw the responses to the video, she was extremely excited. “Everyone is saying I am a super player and now I am motivated to continue and become even better so that I may truly become a great player. I want to keep training and practising so that I can get better at the game,” says the 6-year-old.
Mehak has since joined the Loongs Cricket Academy where she is learning the basics of the game. Mehak’s family supports her passion for cricket and whenever she is not attending her online classes, she takes out her bat and plays cricket with her family, always trying her best not to miss even a single ball.