By Peter Simunovich
Ivy Mahabir is always in the thick of things. Even in women’s cricket, which is virtually non existent in New Jersey, she is in the middle of it trying to recruit players and setting up a league in the Garden State.
It was only a few weeks ago that Ivy, 45, who is originally from Trinidad & Tobago, set off on a mission to try to get women to play cricket. It was almost mission impossible, but not for her. Ivy put the word out and she received just eight responses – not even enough for one team, but she kept at it. The number grew to eight, then 15 and now she has 25 contacts – 23 from the West Indies and two from India – enough for two teams. She still wants more and the word will go out again. The plan is to get about 50 and form a three team women’s cricket league, the first in New Jersey, to play 20-20 matches in Essex County. “I’m still trying to get the word out,” she said.
A cricket lifer, Ivy began playing cricket from age five and now she wants the game to grow in the United States. The immediate plan is to pick a team from New Jersey and New York to take part in the US National Women’s Tournament in late March in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It will be a two team tournament with players representing the Eastern and Western conferences. Then the US women’s cricket team will be selected to play in the eight nations ICC Women America’s Cup in May in Florida. Ivy said: “I am seeing growth in women’s cricket. I think that when it gets warmer and we start practicing and playing outside more will see women playing and, hopefully, join and we get up to 50 women playing. “So far the women we have are aged between 16 and 45 and we want all women who want to play.”
Ivy has already organized coaching sessions to be conducted by former West Indies Test player Neil McGarell and Basil Butcher and Leon Copeland. She has already arranged some sponsorship, raised some money and donations of uniforms and equipment. The first team, by the way, will be the Garden State Smashers and the second team’s name has been suggested as the New Jersey Warriors. After a shaky start it is now on solid ground thanks to the multi tasking of Ivy. It is an old saying that says if you want a job done give it to a busy person. Ivy fits into that category. Right now her schedule looks like this: Studying for a Master’s degree in International Business and wants a second masters in Management, works part time as a Certified Patient Access Representative with a New Jersey hospital, is the women’s cricket coordinator for eight states in the Atlantic region, the first and only woman cricket umpire in New Jersey, writes a cricket column for her local newspaper in Essex County, does PR for the Garden State Cricket League, and when she has spare time she runs her own online travel agency – bookwithivy.com. She is also a mother of 21-year-old cricketer Reyaz Karim and in February she celebrated her first year of marriage with her second husband, Ramesh Ramnarine, who also plays cricket with the Combined Island cricket team in New Jersey. Ivy has her hands full and she is coping with it all. The end game is a thriving women’s cricket league in New Jersey.