AHEAD AND BEYOND : IN CONVERSATION WITH THREE TALENTED ARGENTINES

AHEAD AND BEYOND, Cricket was established in Argentina all the way back in the 1800s, and the Argentine Cricket Association was founded in 1913. Thus, the sport isn’t foreign to the country, but to an extent, to the people.

However, there are certain people striving to mainstream the sport in such nations, and that includes both officials and players. Today we had the opportunity to interview three female Argentine players – namely skipper Veronica Vasquez, Alison Stocks and Maria Castiñeiras, delving in deep about cricket in Argentina.

1.Firstly, can you all tell us a bit about yourself?

My Name is Veronica I am 34 years old. I live in Argentina. I am a doctor specialized in anesthesiologist. I am the captain of the Argentinean women´s cricket team.

My name is Alison Stocks. I am 26 years old and I am in my last year of architecture studies. I have played in the national team for 10 years, and I am now vice-captain.

 I’m Maria Castiñeiras, I’m 20 years old and am currently studying biomedical engineering. I was born in Argentina but lived abroad for a few years in the US and Norway when I was young. I began playing cricket here in Argentina when I was fifteen. I joined the flamingos (Argentina National Team) in 2016.

2. How did you all get into cricket?

Veronica: I started playing when I was 10 years old. I used to go to an English School and club where cricket was played by boys and men only. I was part of the first ever women´s cricket team playing in Argentina and South America.

Alison: I first started playing cricket at my homeclub when I was a young girl. My mum and dad used to leave me in the club in the morning and I practiced all sports: cricket, tennis, hockey, swimming. As I grew up I realized that I like team sports and cricket is definitely something I love since I was born. I guess it’s in my blood as my dad used to play, and he was an umpire here too.  It’s a passion we both share.

 María: It was an elective in my school and my mom suggested I should try it, that it would be interesting to learn a sport that is quite unknown in this country.

Maria Castiñeiras

3. So Maria, cricket in Argentina is growing day by day but still is overshadowed by sports like football. What do you think will change that?

If cricket could be integrated to more schools as a P.E. class it would raise the number of players tremendously and this would help reach people who do not know of the sport. Also sponsorship would be really useful, so that opportunities are not defined by socioeconomic standing.

4. Coming to you Veronica, Sian Kelly was appointed as head coach for the Women’s team in 2018. How pivotal was her arrival according to you and how has the experience been so far?

Cricket has been a sport usually played by men back home. So finding a local woman cricket coach with lot of experience is very difficult for us. We were always coached by men. But when Sian came things changed. She is a woman with lots of experience in the game, training women and girls, which is so good for us because she can understand every part of us. The girls can understand that they have an aim to reach because they can see in Sian a very good player that used to play in high level back home in England. We also have men coaches too. So the combination of both have been awesome.

Alison Stocks (left), Verónica Vásquez (right)

5. Argentina played it’s first official WT20 ( After T20 status in 2018 ) in the South American Championships in 2019 and you, Alison were the leading wickettaker in the tournament with 8 wickets. How did that make you feel and how do you work on your technique?

Actually, Argentina female cricket has
a much older history! The first official T20 Argentina played was in Canada 2009. I did not play at that time, but I do know that from there, the national team level increased a lot. We played 10 South American Championships, and won 7 of them, and the last America’s Cup in 2012 we ended in 2nd place against Canada in a 5 over game.

Regarding 2019 South American Championship I certainly was wickettaker and it feels amazing to see that my hard work led me there. Our coach, Sian Kelly put a lot of effort trying to make us improve our bowling technique. Personally, I tried to focus con consistency. Training as much as I could to dominate the ball myself, and not letting the ball and batswomen be over myself. Bowling, as everything in cricket, I believe it is about being one step beyond your opponent. It’s a constant game and you have to work a lot with your own mind to win that battle.

Up (from left to right) Mariana Martínez, Martina Del Valle, Lucía Iglesias, Catalina Vecchi, Carla Comaschi, Priscila Gauna, Karina León (manager), Sian Kelly (coach)  Down (from left to right): Verónica Vásquez, Lucía Taylor, Malena Lollo, Julieta Cabal Cullen, Constanza Sosa, Agustina Cabal Cullen, Alison Stocks, María Castiñeiras

6. Talking about the SAC, Argentina performed extremely well and was the runner up in the tournament. How was the experience of leading the team as captain Veronica?

The experience of leading our team is incredible. Sometimes it can turn to a difficult and challenging job. But it still so gratifying at the end of the day that I am always happy with it. The girls are awesome; they love the game so much sometimes is difficult to explain how they reached that level of passion in a place where cricket is a sport that is not very popular. They
work hard every day to achieve our

goals. I love this team, I have many friends and I would do anything that I can to make my best in it.

7. So Maria, as an integral part of the team, what according to you is the best part about cricket? Who in your life has been the most supportive regarding your cricketing career?

The best part of cricket for me is being part of a team. The friendships that are born out of situations unlike any others, sharing unique experiences that aren’t replicable in other aspects of life. It’s shown me a different kind of sharing: sharing wins, losses, mistakes, achievments.

My dad has been the most supportive of my cricket career, as he’s been in all my endeavors. He’s always there to cheer me on.

8. Coming back to Alison, how is the passion for young girls and boys for cricket in Argentina? Do you think the cricket structure is improving day by day?

I am now coach in my homeclub of young girls, so I get to see it every day. Here in Argentina, we are naturally competitive so I can see that girls here want to improve and to learn every day. They are in love with cricket, as it was for me when I was their age. So hopefully we will develop the sport, and they will have many more opportunities in the future.

What we struggle here is that hockey here is one of the main sports for girls, and they do have a pretty strict structure, with seasons that start in early February and end in late November so we find it hard to compete with that. But we are working on it, trying to make it as competitive and as serious as other sports are. And so, in the last years we are starting to see that they take cricket as a serious sport, and that they don’t have to choose one sport over the other. Same thing happens with boys and Rugby.

Luckily things are changing and it feels great to be a part of it, and to see that this sport that I love is growing every day.

9. If talking of cricket as a career, when do you think Veronica can the sport become a full-time job in your country? How do you balance cricket and other jobs?

Balancing cricket with other jobs can be challenging sometimes. Many of our player are young players and students which can more easily find time to train. Me myself I am a Doctor so it can be more difficult. Nevertheless, if you love something so much in life you would always find the time for it. Sometimes I go to train after a 24 hours shift at work and still perform. The body is intelligent and can adapt to difficult situations.

I really think we are not near of becoming a really professional sport back home. Women´s cricket players in the most important countries in the world are just becoming professional players where they can fully live of their cricket wages. I think South America is far away from that point yet. But still we have many challenges to achieve first. As increasing our local amount of players. Setting a very competitive local league. Things will come for us eventually. Women´s cricket is developing al over the world and South America will be part of that movement too.

10. If all three of you could describe your country in one sentence, what would it be?

Veronica: Argentina is a beautiful country with many interesting places to get to know. Our climate is awesome, and our culture is very rich. The best thing that we have is the people. We can be very friendly and always willing to share a moment between others.

Alison: We are a country that has an extreme power of adaptability, and we always resurge with consistency and effort.

María: Argentina is a country with a lot of spirit, in every sense of the word.

11. Tell us your motto in life that constantly inspires you to do better each day.

Veronica: “Work until your idols become your rivals”; “girls power play”

Alison: “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”

María: “Adaptability is everything, change is inevitable”

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