Bates inspiring girls to play cricket
New Zealand women's cricket captain Suzie Bates hopes to inspire girls to get into the summer game in the same way she was encouraged to take up cricket as a youngster.
Bates works as New Zealand Cricket's development officer for the Otago region, a relatively new role which involves her working with development officers in the districts that make up the Otago catchment area. Her focus is on recruiting female players into cricket and ensuring they stay involved.
"It's pretty cool to get around and see how much talent there is out there," Bates said.
"This is how I remember being inspired to play for the White Ferns. We had the head coach at the time, Mike Shrimpton, do a road show and he came to Dunedin with some of the White Ferns and some up-and-coming Otago players. That's when I thought, ‘Maybe I could play for the White Ferns one day'. We probably haven't done it as well in the past, and been in the girls' faces so they see it as a pathway."
Southland development manager Emma Campbell said numbers were on the rise in junior girls cricket. Although there were possibly enough senior players available to form a Southland women's team, there were six or seven schoolgirls teams which had "sprung up out of nowhere" and a lot of players coming through from open days targeting year 7 and 8 pupils.
Bates said the rise in numbers was promising.
"Emma Campbell has done a really good job down here with that age group, now it's about making sure those girls keep playing right through high school and on to the [Otago] Sparks. It does take some work in the schools and the lower ages to get the numbers up and I guess it's my job now to foster that talent and keep them playing cricket."
Bates, who is also a New Zealand basketball representative, suffered a slight setback during a break from coaching sessions yesterday when she lost a throwing competition against local radio announcer Andrew Wright, who had claimed he could out-throw any female in Southland.
- The Southland Times