Alex Norman-Ross has kindly given us permission to reproduce her article, originally published on Facebook.
I recently had the great pleasure of competing over in Vancouver several weekends ago with a large group of diverse women. While there, a few of us got to talking about the state of women’s cricket in Canada and how we all felt about it. The conversations were full of frustration, disappointment and concerns for the future. Despite a wonderful weekend full of cricket and camaraderie, it was clear that underneath that, there were issues that had been growing for years and that needed to be brought to light.
What do you think about when I say “Women’s Cricket”? I would put my bet on the fact that you think of countries like India, England, Australia, or Pakistan. Countries with Women’s teams that compete at the World Cup and in ODI’s. Countries with stars like Mithali Raj, Ellyse Perry and Sana Mir. Not many people reading this would think about Canada. Many people do not even know that we compete Internationally in Women’s cricket at all.
This isn’t for a lack of female cricket players or a lack of talent mind you. There are dozens upon dozens of women from the very young to the not so young anymore, making runs and taking wickets across the country, from BC to Alberta Saskatchewan to Manitoba to Ontario, and Newfoundland/Labrador. Lots of women willing to put in the time and sweat to earn the chance to represent our country on the world stage and build a world class program that could have a good chance of meeting or exceeding program’s in more cricket-favouring countries. So, what is preventing these opportunities for these eager and talented women? I thought there was no better group to ask then the women themselves.
I decided that in this article I would expand past my own experiences, gathering together the voices of female cricket players across the country. I asked them a series of 7 questions around how they got into the sport, what keeps them in the sport and how they feel about the current situation and moving forward into the future. 16 women from 6 provinces, including Ontario, responded in confidence to me. While they may have come into the sport in different ways and have competed at a variety of different levels, there were some common themes. Themes of frustration, lack of opportunity to play, and a massive lack of support from the local, provincial, and national level. Most local and provincial organizations do not even track the stats of female players or how many female players are registered, making it difficult to properly scout talent. Though due to the lack of sanctioned recruitment events and competitions occurred in the 2019 season regardless of the availability of information. There is no high-performance group, and no real structure for the recruitment and retention of talent. All of these points were brought up by the women who dedicate their time and talent to playing this sport. Some came from women, who, due to years of frustration, have left the sport. It is my fear that if this trend of neglect continues, we will lose more and more players at a quicker rate.
There was passion reflected in their answers, but that was always mixed with deep frustration and often, a not so positive view on the future of women’s cricket in this country. We are frustrated, feeling less valued than male players (men get more funding invested in them than women do on a per player basis on a national level) and deeply undervalued. We deserve not only a seat at the table when it comes to discussion of the future of women’s cricket, but a spot at the head of the table to open the door for women to build their own future in this sport. We deserve support to reach our goals, whether that is to play consistent, well-organized local cricket, or help build a national program to be proud. We are not asking the various governing bodies to pull all the weight. The women of this sport are ready and willing to step forward and build. We are willing to work with official local, provincial and national bodies, if they are willing to work with us.