THE PIONEER, When we think of Brazil, we automatically think of football, the flair and beauty of the Brazilian way of playing football has earned them millions of fans around the world, but as football’s popularity remains on top in Brazil, cricket is making it’s mark in this beautiful country just as football is played with passion, cricket is also being taken up with passion, in fact, Brazil’s women’s cricket team is one of the few outside the big nations to offer their players a central contract, today I have the pleasure to speak to one of the most passionate cricketers I’ve had to interview, the big-hitting skipper of the Brazilian women’s team,the first person male or female to hit a T20i century for Brazil, the pioneer of the game in Brazil, Roberta Moretti Avery, today we get to know her a little better.
Hi Roberta, tell us a little about yourself?
Hello! I am a 34-year-old Brazilian cricket player who lives in Poços de Caldas. My current work is in international trading and I am the skipper from Cricket Brasil Women’s team.
How and when did you get involved in cricket?
I got involved with Cricket in 2013 – I was already a golf player and started with indoor soft ball games with a few friends during the weekdays – and just loved it!
It took me a while to actually want to play Cricket as an athlete, but I loved that we had more girls starting to play and I took the challenge. In that same year, we had our first Nationals and that is when everything changed – I found out that I loved to compete for cricket and I wasn’t too far away from being a National player.
Cricket is fairly new to Brazil, have the people been receptive to the game?
Yes. Although people don’t automatically know what Cricket is, we do have a street game in Brazil called bets that is similar to cricket. And when we teach cricket and its fundamental skills, people quickly relate to this childhood game and have good memories of playing it with their friends. So the first impression is good.
When they start going into hardball cricket, there are two points that are pretty cool for not being a traditional cricket country: 1. Cricket is not a predominantly male sport here. We don’t have centuries of history with only men playing. So cricket is a game for all and we are developing it this way! Our women participation is very good; and 2. We have 200 million people in the country and not every kid wants to play football. We love football in our hearts, but there are so many different skills in this nation and cricket fits right in! Other sports are expanding in Brazil, but we can see that cricket is highly embraced by the community.
The women’s game in Brazil is on the up, your women’s team even have a central contract for the players, this is a huge achievement, what goals do the women’s team have?
This year has been a good change for us – we have been having a terrific National Tournament since 2013, we have a great player development pathway and this professionalism helps us set up the high-performance program for the National team players.
We do aim to play the ICC Qualifying tournaments and compete against teams that are above in the rankings. Giving more structured training, better coaching facilities and professionals will improve our chances and we are very excited for this next step.
You are the Skipper of the women’s team and obviously a part of history too as being a pioneer in the game in Brazil, how do you feel about that?
I feel PROUD! Not for the fact that I am the skipper itself, but I am proud that we are creating a team of female players that not only want to be the best athletes they can be, but they want to do it on the values that cricket brings.
We want athletes but also role models for the next generation of cricketers or even the next generation of female players. The first thing that we bring into the team, and that is part of my belief as Skipper, is that you can do it. You put the effort, you face your challenges and you CAN DO IT. And it is amazing to see this trend growing and inspiring other women.
The Brazilian women’s team is pretty dominant in the Americas region, are you looking to play games against tougher teams?
Yes. We definitely want to play against teams that are better ranked than we are.
Who is the star player of your team?
Tough question. I have some amazing bowlers, batsman, fielders. I don’t think I can choose only one player
You do know you are one of the few women who have a T20i 100 to their name, is it something you look back and feel proud of?
Absolutely. That was my second International competition and my batting record until that moment was 14. So when I scored 102 I was amazed, but I didn’t know how important it was until people from all the other countries started congratulating me and we had this awesome presentation in the end. That was when I realized that scoring 100 was a big deal. The next day I scored 76 and ended up winning Best Batsman of the Championship and we were Champions of South America for the first time. It was an incredible experience.
What is your most memorable cricket experience?
It is difficult to choose only one in a sport that gave me so many good memories, but I guess it was playing with Claire Taylor in Philadelphia in 2018. I had the opportunity of playing with an organization called CanAm and Claire was our captain. It was amazing to see her attitude towards the game and her batting! In the following year, we had a training camp with Charlotte Edwards and Suzie Bates – these are BIG names! And to know that we are able to meet them and practice a bit with these legends is a great feeling!
If given the opportunity, which player would you like to play alongside?
I would love to play alongside Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry! Meg was the first player that I started following when cricket came into my life – she is amazing! And Ellyse is just a super star, best allrounder in the world in my opinion!
You are actually supremely fit,do you have a special training regime for your cricket fitness?
Yes. I had some trouble in the past with my health and I decided to change habits because to be a good athlete you must have good fitness. I follow a diet to enhance performance and work on fitness alongside technical to make sure I have the same competitive edge as a Young player.
Currently, all players from the Brazilian National squad are on a specific training regime with a company called Studio Ação to improve their Cricket skills.
Where do you see Brazil cricket in the next five years?
I hope to be playing ICC official tournaments and competing well on those. And that the development done in Brazil increases our participation numbers to have a higher number of girls coming through the pathway and increases significantly the amount of players on high performance. Also, we hope to be preparing for the Olympic cycle for cricket. Why not?
How do you define success?
Success for me is do what you love, feel good in the process of chasing it and achieving the results from the work you put into it.
As Roberta continues making strides to bring cricket to Brazil and make it a top-level sport, we from Cricktalk20 do wish her all the best in all that she does.
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