08 Mar

Many of us moved here to accompany our spouses with a new assignment. A lot many of us gave up lucrative jobs in hopes of finding a similar if not better alternatives here. And there is a common narrative that stands out for most of the Indian women here in Helsingborg - 'Have the skillset but opportunities evade us'. Frustrations galore - the common route taken then are language lessons where many toil hard - now in hopes for 'any opportunity' that may come our way. Life has thrown us lemons and perhaps we are making lemonade. Perhaps. But what if you tweak things a bit, be unafraid to welcome a change of perspective and with those lemons, enjoy a good shot of Tequila instead?

As much as we may deny - we are bounded subconsciously by the Engineer, Doctor, MBA mindset - the only career options. One of the best learnings from having lived here in Sweden is breaking away from those stereotypical shackles and forming an equal respect for all forms of work. Here is one woman who has understood that quite early after moving to Sweden. She tried an alternative route driven by what was a subdued childhood passion. Soon enough, she is now leading a Cricket team and winning away appreciation and trophies - while enjoying that tequila. As she rightly says ' Fortune Favors the Brave' - Take a bow - get inspired by Ritu Raheja!

Your Name and Where in India are you from?
Ritu Raheja  from New Delhi, India

When and why did you move here?
I moved to Sweden in 2018 to stay with my husband which was 12 months after our marriage. I was working in India till then.

Why and how did you choose to be a Cricket player in Sweden? 
Well, the story is quite filmy actually. I used to play cricket in childhood with my elder brother and his friends. Being the only girl in the gang I was known for my game in the neighborhood and I grew up loving the sport even more. People would recommend me to train and play professionally but I could not.
After coming to Sweden, one day in between living my usual "new life" of attending the Swedish classes, learning to cook edible food, and looking for jobs, I came across a Facebook post from Malmöhus Cricket Club on women’s cricket in Sweden. The excited sportsperson in me just couldn’t wait to join them and re-live my passion of playing the sport.

 Your journey into becoming a team member?
I joined the team when most of the players were beginners and were still learning the basic rules of the game. Everyone had come for a different reason, few had come for their love for the game, others to learn something new, some for fitness, etc. All in all it was great to see women stepping out from their homes and taking great interest in playing a male dominated game.The team morale boosted when we started to play real matches against other cities in Sweden. Team in tandem, then went onto win the first ever Swedish championship for Malmöhus in Stockholm. Meanwhile, I had qualified for the National Women's Cricket Team of Sweden, the team went for The Nordic Cricket Tournament 2020 and won the debut international championship.

 Your achievements so far as a part of the women’s league.
  • On our debut International Tournament, we won the Nordic Cup Championship held in Oslo, against Norway and Finland and bagged the winners trophy. I managed to impress selectors and coaches with my perfect cricketing shots.
  • As Captain, I represented Malmöhus Cricket Club in Sweden's club meet at Stockholm and we won its first ever Cricket Tournament since 1993. 
  • I was awarded the Best Batsman Award for the SM Women’s Cricket Tournament, Stockholm for highest unbeaten scorer in semi-final and finals. 
Your next milestone or your dream(s)?
My dream is to be an accomplished cricketer! I want to follow my passion and on the way would like to tick the key milestones like winning the Women’s T20 Cup, which is to be held in Austria in August 2020 and next to be qualifying for ICC Women’s Cricket to be held in England in 2021.

Your view of Helsingborg?
I think Helsingborg is a great city to live in if you are looking for a peaceful and family life. I do like the infrastructure, facilities and the travel ease in and around Helsingborg. But, as I am more of a vibrant personality would enjoy more in happening cities like Stockholm, Malmo. I am not sure if it is an issue across Sweden but having lived in Helsingborg, I would say though the Swedish culture is warm and welcoming but from the professional perspective - diversity in work culture is not enjoyed. It has been tough to find a relevant job even after applying to jobs directly or through Arbetsförmedlingen. I believe there are many potential and career oriented women from India which could professionally contribute from their previous experience. But many do not even get to start from somewhere.

What do you miss about India?
Yes, I do miss my mother land for its rich culture, diversity and my career path. Indian Tillsammans is doing a commendable job at bringing Indian culture to Sweden. I have witnessed that Swedes also like to be part of these events and they love Indian food. Recently, I started working in The South Indian restaurant, I am enjoying it as it has come after a long job hunt. But, I look forward to working in my core field of Human Resources. I believe India is truly "A land of Unity in Diversity".

What motivates you?
I am a person who feels enriched and motivated with new learning and experiences. I feel there is so much to accomplish in the world. No matter what you do and where you are, if you are willing to learn and grow nobody can stop you. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you, start with what you already have.

Message for our Fellow Women on Women's Day:
Having connected with so many fellow women, I would strongly suggest "Do not shy away from starting small". Fortune favors the brave! 
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