Five Waipa cricketers were amongst a Waikato Valley team that took on Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Northland and Hamilton last week at the girls’ Northern Brave T20 Smash Youth Rangitahi tournament in Cambridge.
“We lost two games and won two games, which is amazing for the Waikato Valley team as they had never played a game together until this tournament,” said manager Camille Guzzwell, who hosts The Breeze radio station’s breakfast show.
“The key focus for this tournament is positive vibes, so if anyone drops a catch or anything like that, everyone just shakes it off. Everyone gets a go at stuff. It’s all about confidence.”
The team was coached by Erin Hunt, originally from Otorohanga, who now plays for Northern Districts.
Guzzwell’s 15-year-old daughter Mia, who specialises in batting, said the tournament had been “really fun” and an opportunity to play some “very talented cricketers”.
Northern Districts Cricket competition, tournament and programme manager Naomi Matthews said teams had been selected from regional winter training squads.
“The Waikato Valley players come from a huge area, including Thames, Coromandel, Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Tokoroa and the King Country,” she said.
“For these girls, who don’t get to play outside their club or school very often, it a really cool opportunity.”
Waikato Valley player Poppy Jamieson, 15, whose uncle Lance Dry coaches the Wellington Blaze Super Smash women’s team, said it was “a great opportunity for girls’ cricket to develop”.
She got into the sport in year 8 because of its popularity in her whanau.
“I’d love to go further in cricket, but because I didn’t start as early as I should have, I don’t think I’ll continue it as a career – but I will continue playing because I think it’s such a cool sport,” she said. “I wish I’d started when I was younger.”
Matthews said Rangitahi tournaments for U9-U13 players – including this one – were one way to create player pathways into higher level cricket and women’s cricket was “definitely on the increase”.
She hopes match fee equity for professional players in domestic cricket will encourage more girls to get involved in the game.
“In the past there’s been limited exposure of professional athletes for girls to see as role models,” she said. “But now in domestic cricket match fees are even for women…and all the women’s and men’s domestic Super Smash cricket will be free to air across the holiday period.”
Northern District Cricket CEO Ben MacCormack said his organisation was “super passionate” about women’s cricket, citing its move to bring women’s and men’s teams together under the Northern Brave brand in 2021.
“We now have one club with two teams under one brand, so young girls can see that there’s a pathway for them – they can identify as a cricketer because they can see that on the TV,” he said.
“We’re very optimistic about the future of women’s cricket, but understand there’s a lot of work to do to make sure it’s a pathway they can follow.”