Australian cricket star Holly Ferling says the world’s leading nations in women’s cricket can learn a lot from newcomers to the international stage, such as Vanuatu.
On a trip to the island nation this month supported by the Australian Government’s Australia-Pacific Sport Linkages Program, Ferling spent time with each of the six teams competing in the 2019 ICC Women’s Qualifier East Asia-Pacific and visited cricket programs in Port Vila funded by the Australian Government’s Pacific Sports Partnerships.
Teams from Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Samoa joined hosts Vanuatu in the Twenty 20 (T20) qualifying tournament for next year’s T20 Women’s World Cup in Australia.
Ferling spent time with each nation during training and matches, and was encouraged not only by the high standard of cricket among Australia’s neighbours, but also by their attitude.
“A lot of other national teams can learn from these girls and these teams and how much they enjoy their cricket,” Ferling said. “They’re not getting paid, they’re playing because they love it. That perspective is something that needs to be transitioned through world cricket and world sport.
“This trip has shown me how strong cricket is in these regions. I know it’s taken a number of years, but I think women’s sport and cricket are on the cusp of something amazing and we owe it to these developing nations that cricket continues to thrive and grow. If cricket is stronger (in the region) our whole competition is stronger.”
Australia’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Jenny Da Rin, said it was a huge boost to the competing East Asia-Pacific nations to have Ferling’s input.
“Holly’s passion for the game and willingness to share her experience and skill inspires young women across our region. The teams participating in the competition in Vanuatu have relished the opportunity to work with a top Australian athlete.
“Through the new Australia-Pacific Sports Linkages Program, we will continue to support sport in the Pacific, build connections in the region, and raise the profile of women in sport.”
Ferling also joined participants from Vanuatu Cricket’s Women’s Island Cricket Program, which combines cricket activities with health and nutrition education sessions for middle aged and older women.
“Sport is such a universal language and something that everyone can enjoy no matter who you are or where you come from,” Ferling said. “Physical activity is so important in this part of the world, both for health reasons but also for women to build confidence in their communities. Having those social connections has really transformed some of the villages.”
“The Women’s Island Cricket Program has been one of cricket’s flagship sport for development programs, with replica programs implemented in Fiji and Samoa, because of the program’s ability to improve health-related behaviours of the participants – and get more women playing cricket,” said Jane Livesey, the ICC’s Development Manager for the East Asia-Pacific region.
“Having someone like Holly, who is not just an elite cricketer but also one of the game’s best role models, visit Vanuatu and learn about these programs is a fantastic opportunity to profile the work of our member associations in the Pacific to grow the game and inspire players, coaches and volunteers.”
Ferling’s visit to Vanuatu was supported by the Australian Government, Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council.