The world is well versed with the nations sitting on top of the rankings in international cricket, and with the landmark women’s T20 World Cup held in Australia, the teams leading in Women’s cricket are gaining the recognition they deserved all along as well.
However, the growth of the sport which sounds almost foreign to the people living in Affiliate and Associate Nations has been a daunting task, especially in Latin America. Football has dominated the sports columns for decades in these countries, however cricket, specifically women’s cricket is slowly climbing to the peak in the continent.
To begin with, let’s fly to the western part of the continent where the gorgeous country of Peru lies. The only female participants in the sport here had mainly been British expats, but Cricket Peru, since 2014, has integrated various Peruvian girls into the free programs offered by them. In July 2018, Cricket Para Mujeres or Cricket for women was a program started to facilitate a better environment for cricket in Peru.
“Within schools we find there are a lot of young girls who are becoming more inspired to get involved with the programs outside of their schools classes,” said Samantha Hickman, Head of National cricket development, Peru.
In 2019, when Peru hosted the South American Women’s championships, many players who couldn’t afford travel costs were able to have the exposure they needed, and it was a landmark achievement for the girls.
In Comas today!!! Cricket development reaching further and further in Peru! Amazing kids, amazing attitudes #Cricket #Peru #comas @iccamericas @lafille2394 @BBCWorld @TheCricketerMag #criiio #entrylevelprogram @WSchultz44 pic.twitter.com/EnAhVLqTQK
— Cricket Peru Official (@cricket_peru) August 20, 2019
Our next country doesn’t fall into South America, but the Central American country is culturally Latin American: Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican cricket Federation along with the British Embassy inaugurated the women’s cricket association in 2015, and the growth has been nonstop since then.
Since it being granted official status in 2018, the team has faced two international encounters. The first one was in the Central American Championship that took place in Mexico last year and then in Costa Rica there was an international midseason against Belize.
We had a chance to chat with the skipper of the team, Sofia Bolaños, and here is what she has in mind for the team in the future.
I wish to see Costa Rica participating in more regionals and international competitions, the sky is the limit, and I even think Olympic Games and World Cups are on the list.
Now diving back into the South American Continent, let’s take a moment to visit Argentina. Now our minds might picture football on the call of this nation, but let’s look into the women’s cricket progressing here. Currently captained by Veronica Vasquez , Argentina played their first international WT20 in 2019 in the South American Women’s championships, and managed to reach the final where they were defeated by Brazil.In a historic move, Sian Kelly was appointed as the head coach for the team in 2018, and here is what she had to say for the new appointment.
“For me the most rewarding part of the job is seeing the little girls’ faces when they take their first catch or hit their first four. You see the excitement in their eyes and their faces and they go home and tell their mums and their mums are happy. I want to make sure that girls over here have the same sporting opportunities that I was lucky enough to have in England.”
With several leagues for younger generations to gain exposure in the sport, Argentina is indeed on its way to many more successes in the future.
Next let’s hope onto the country of Chile. A country renowned for its beautiful landscapes and history of football, cricket is rising through the ranks as a popular sport there. The women’s team was first formed in 2010 there, when the team participated in the South American Championships held in Santiago. Ranked 48th in T20s, the team led by Jeannette Garces has incredible potential, and here’s what she had to say about being skipper.
I’m completely aware that being the first Chilean captain is something will remain for the records but mainly I know what that means… it is to be a pioneer of a sport in a country non-traditional in cricket… so, everything is harder but all the hard work is crucial for keeping this sport and this team alive against all odds, not just for us but for the athletes who will come. I hope the girls and me can contribute to put Chile women on the map opening a road for the future.
A side to beat in Central America, we next visit the land of Mexico. With the women being an important part of cricket growth in the nation, the team has crossed an endless amount of barriers since the women’s program was initiated in 2017.
The fact that the team was made only 19 months before their inaugural Central American Championship win is commendable, and with players ranging from former footballers to even a tennis player, cricket in Mexico is going from being unknown to being widely recognised.
From defeating Peru in their inaugural international tournament to being awarded the best Mother and Daughter programme by the ICC, it is indeed evident that the board as well as the players are making immense efforts to take the sport forward, and we wish to see more of Mexico in the future.
Un par de fotos del cricket femenil en @oficial_RAC este fin de semana. ¡Ya con un entrenador, las chicas se mejoran sus habilidades! ¡Que nos acompañen @AnjuliLadronde @EllasDeporte @diosasolimpicas @CONADE @COM_Mexico @iccamericas! pic.twitter.com/NCX0dZ5dHA
— Cricket México (@CricketMexico) March 1, 2020
Last but not the least, the country we come to is Brazil, perhaps the most active in the growth of women’s cricket in Latin America. So much that the Federation has awarded 14 central contracts to the female players.
Central Contract for Women’s Cricket in Brazil for 2020! 🇧🇷🏏 The decision has been made by the Brazilian Cricket Association as part of the new strategic plan for the growth of cricket in Brazil.
Check here 👇🏼https://t.co/wGcuPo9ZcJ#americaslegacy #werun4cricket #growthegame pic.twitter.com/hLLMKL0i9O— Cricket Brasil (at 🏠) (@brasil_cricket) January 9, 2020
The team, led by a formidable Roberta Moretti Avery, has already made a scathing impact in the ICC Americas region, winning the South American Championships 4 times already.
One main reason to this has been the ground-breaking development programs undertaken by the Brazil cricket Federation, which now has integrated more than 3700 children with plans to hit 5000 in 2020.
Here’s what Roberta said, in conversation with Cricktalk20.
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.
It’s absolutely necessary that the World witnesses the growth of these teams, because it’s not always about the top teams.
As an end note, to bring a smile to each of your faces is the video that unites 5 nations, holding us together in the period of quarantine.
5 athletes! 🏏
And this is what happens:Watch the full video here: Stop, from Spice Cricketers!https://t.co/FjQuVJe5cw#staysafe #stayhome #stopspicecricketers @jegargoz @Sof_Bol @Samanth06617724 @flamingosarg @brasil_cricket pic.twitter.com/w4bHSfZNQL— Roberta Moretti Avery (@MorettiAvery) April 8, 2020