Sharjah: It's tough to ignore Aisha Noushad Khan as she prepares for the ACC U-19 Women's Championships to be held in Kuwait from February 3-10.
Just 12, the naturally talented young girl bowls with so much elegance and consistency at a training camp in Sharjah Cricket Stadium that even the coaches watch in awe.
That's not all; the passion she carries for the game she loves is to be seen to be believed. She travels close to 100km every day from Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) to Sharjah to attend the training sessions.
"It's something I just can't imagine missing. I love playing cricket and I can do anything for that," said Aisha, who studies in Grade 7 at the Indian School Ras Al Khaimah.
Aisha, who hails from Kottayam in Kerala, India, bowls medium pace and has come a long way since she began playing cricket when she was just seven. "I used to watch a lot of cricket when I was young, especially Sachin Tendulkar. That is when I began loving this game.
"My brother used to go for his nets and I started to join him," she added. It was then that she was first spotted in the Maxtalent camp, run by Sudhakar Shetty. When they realised her immense potential she was asked to attend the camp at the Sharjah stadium and that was the start of a promising career for Aisha.
Her parents have been very supportive with her mother Mallika travelling with her every day. Her father, Noushad Khan, who works as a manager in RAK, also ensures she never misses her training despite his hectic schedule and drives her every time the camp is under way.
"My parents have always backed me. There have been days when we had to reach the camp early in the morning and my father has always been there to drop me," she said.
Aisha, who has been part of the team for a year now, was at her best in a practice match held recently against the under-16 boys where she picked up an impressive six wickets and did reasonably well with the bat.
"I want to do well for my team. I have been working hard and I hope that my performance will help the team win in Kuwait," the 12-year-old said.
She said she received a lot of support from her coaches — Kalpana Venkatacher, who joined the team a month ago, and Mohammad Hyder. "They have been really supportive. They guide me well and have helped improve my fielding and batting.
"Fitness is very important for us and that was one area our coaches stressed on and we are pretty confident of doing well in Kuwait," she added.
When she is not attending nets, Aisha keeps herself busy playing badminton at the Indian Association in RAK.
Hyder said: "She is a very hard-working girl and her parents are very supportive. Everybody is impressed with this girl and she is a quick learner. She has improved on her batting and fielding in the past one year and I'm sure she will go a long way."