At a time when the world offers challenges in every step, it is not often that you find someone who takes multiple challenges head-on and thrives in those pursuits. Bangladesh women's cricket team pacer Panna Ghosh is one of the courageous ones who represents the national team all the while playing volleyball professionally. Panna, the right arm pacer, is also a member of Bangladesh Ansar's volleyball team.
Cases like Panna's are, however, not uncommon in our country. Mashura Parvin, who now represents Bangladesh under-19 football team, has previously played age-level Kabaddi before switching to football. Mirona, now a football coach, represented the national football team while also being long-distance runner. There were more instances of players, especially in the mid-70s and the 80s, playing in multiple disciplines simultaneously.
Panna's advantage was her height, which helped in her becoming a fast bowler and a volleyball player. But in Bangladesh, a girl often needs to show persistence and determination to pave her own path even after having natural athlete-like qualities.
"I used to play volleyball, cricket since I was seven or eight years of age. I was the tallest girl in my class and I used to play with the boys in my neighbourhood. But they usually did not want to take me. There was an incident in 1998 when the boys declined to take me on the insistence of an elderly person of the locality. I was a bit stubborn and I decided to arrange a cricket tournament by myself. I even bought some medals for the tournament. Even in that tournament, a few boys did not want to see me participate but they could not do much as I was the one who arranged it," Panna said
Panna had, however, played volleyball professionally before getting into the women's national cricket team. The 30-year-old, who hails from Rajshahi, was first inspired chosen for her school's volleyball team for her height. She played in volleyball tournaments in the early and mid-2000s. It was while playing in such a tournament that Panna got attracted to cricket.
"I was playing in a volleyball tournament at the Dhanmondi Mohila Complex representing Rajshahi division. There I saw 10-12 girls playing cricket and I was intrigued. I started practising cricket under the tutelage of Mijanur Rahman (local coach of Rajshahi) and continued training for five years," recalled Panna.
"In 2006, an open tournament was held in Dhaka where a number of teams participated. It was the year when the BCB was trying to form a women's team. I trained under Farida Begum for six months and played for Bhola district. I was declared the player-of-the-tournament as Bhola emerged champions," explained Panna.
Soon Panna was called for the very first batch of women's cricketers. "We [Bangladesh women's team] went to Thailand to play in the Asian Games in 2007. I was adjudged player-of-the-series with Bangladesh winning that tournament," said Panna.
Panna has been representing Bangladesh team since 2007 and in 2008 she secured a job in the Ansar under the [volleyball] players' quota. The 30-year-old sometimes had to make interesting decisions while balancing both cricket and volleyball.
"Even last year I fled from the Ansar camp in Gazipur and went to Rajshahi to play cricket. At that time a volleyball tournament was being held in Dhaka. However, I returned from Rajshahi later and played in the final of the volleyball tournament representing Bangladesh Ansar and became champion," said Panna, who holds the dream of becoming a volleyball coach at the end of her career.