Cricket doesn't begin on the 22 Yards or even on any of the world's best cricket grounds. It begins right here within us, in our hearts. And this story of Chile women's cricket team captain, Jeannette Garces and the cricket team in Chile which no body knows about, is going to prove it. In a place where cricket was unknown to its own people, it is still thought of as an elite class sport and also is way out of the sights of the world, comes a story of Chile and its women's cricket team- Las Loicas.
Pic Credits : Catalina Juger
Female cricket brings to you the journey of Jeannette Garces, the Chile Captain and a super exciting and surprising story of Chile Cricket. In an Exclusive Interview with the Female Cricket team, Garces tells about how cricket happened, what is Chile Cricket all about and where she sights it in another decade.
1) Tell us about your childhood and how cricket happened?
Well, because I was born and I live in Chile, Cricket didn't show up in my life in childhood. I practiced tennis (in junior competitions). Cricket is almost unknown here in my country, so I never heard about it until University, where a friend of mine (who practiced it) told me that there was going to be a cricket game between MCC and Chile Men and there was going to be an exhibition game where people who wanted to try a new sport could try it. I decided to go and try. Because I never heard about it was all new. I didn’t understand the dynamic… people appealing for LBW or hit the ball and not running, etc… but I fell in love with the game and it has been 12 years since then. After that I started to practice cricket at the Beach, where I played my first competitions and next the national squad happened for the first women south American cricket championship in 2010.
2) What is the selection procedure for being a part of the Chile National Cricket team?
There’s not many women in Chile playing cricket, in fact since 2010, 40 women has played and used the Chile jersey in a tournament, maybe 100 girls and women among these years have practiced, somehow. So the procedure is a mix of parameters. It’s about your consistence in your training, your skill to be part of a team and also, a sad and hard part is that you have to be in a financial condition to pay your expenses to participate in the south American tournament tours, which is the only cricket event in the year.
3) Where do you see the team in about another 7-8 years?
Well, I think Chile has talented players who can try to get inside the first twenty best women cricket team in the world in the next 8 years and maybe try to fight to be part of qualifiers for the world cup.
ICC is changing T20 format in women's cricket, this year we played our first ever recognised official game in history, so I think the changes will start to happen for Chile Women - Las Loicas-, Cricket is changing, and we will be there to take all the chances that will appear.
Pic Credits : Catalina Juger
4) How is the composition of the team in terms of batting, bowling and fielding?
Las Loicas is a team with an aggressive bowling. We have four pace bowlers, one spin and three slow and medium pace. One of our fast bowler has won the best bowler in the last two South American championship: She is Jessica Miranda.
In batting , we have 3 aggressive players. In summary, we have 4 all rounders, 2 bowlers, 4 batters, 5 fielders.
5) What inspired you to take up cricket?
Cricket is a game with a lot of things that makes it so attractive to me. Teamwork is one thing but specially what I love the most about cricket is that you need a lot of mental strength in combination with physical performance. I love that it’s not just about force! Also it has that characteristic that it’s a perfect mixture of collective and individual game. There are so many roles in a cricket team and in a game itself, that you never know when your team victory can rely on you.
Also, seeing the big women teams was inspirational, to watch them playing and doing what they love inspired me a lot to go for cricket. Specifically I’m a big fan of Proteas Women, I started admiring Mignon Du Preez a lot and the way she lead South Africa with her charisma as a captain. Of course now Dané Van Nierkerk is doing a great job as a captain, I love her attitude. Marizanne Kapp is an incredible all rounder, I admire her a lot too. So I must mention how important it s to have the chance to see and watch women's cricket to feel inspired and the media has a very important role on it and to do it for next generations, specially in places like my country where cricket is completely unknown. I fell in love with cricket because of its characteristics and the idols who put fire and will in your heart to keep fighting for your dreams.
6) Do you think the cricket in Chile is ready to be taken up as a full fledged profession?
I would love to and it’s one of my dream, but I think we need more years to get that. It requires a lot of structure and organisation that until now it doesn’t exist. It needs lot of logistics. I hope Chile could get that point as soon as possible.
Also Read : CanAm United Women's Cricket Association nurturing female cricketers in America
7) In which department do you think the team can be really competitive against the world's best?
I think in bowling we can be more competitive contrasting with the best’s.
Because I feel : Passion, will, spirit and hunger to do better are the qualities we need to be between the best of the world!!
8) Since how many years have you been playing cricket professionally and what kind of difference do you see since your debut and today?
Well, Cricket is not a professional sport in my country. It’s my dream to be able to dedicate my full time to play cricket. We have to split our time between cricket and other occupations.
There’s so many difference, the sport maturity is shown in my batting position and in my bowling. I started being a classic medium pace bowler and I worked to be an off spinner because there’s no spinner in Chile women’s cricket. The last years I’ve been working to improve my batting skills to try to transform myself as an all rounder, because batting is one of the most needed skill in my team.
Pic Credits : Catalina Juger
9) What is it that is holding back the team from coming up at the international level under the ICC?
Well, I’m not part of the directory of Cricket Chile Association, I think they could have a better diagnosis on what can be done better. But, I think as long as you can’t have a stuff and players working full time or even part-time for cricket everything becomes difficult.
10) How far do you think captaincy can influence the Team's performance and atmosphere?
I think the captain is very influential in a cricket team, it’s who gives and wakes so many emotions to the team. You are in charge if you’re going to play aggressive, or to be calm and to take decisions. You’re the brain. The captain gives you confidence, too. I mean, if you compare, for example, India captained by Raj versus Kaur is so different! The team position is different, the spirit of a team changes, all that comes from captain.
11) Not many people see cricket in Chile as a profession. What made you go for it?
Cricket is very unknown and it’s not professional here. It’s my desire that cricket one day could be a professional sport in my country but there are still some years left for that. What I do hope is this desire could be real as long as I’m an active player!!
Also Read : Germany women's cricket eyeing a steady growth in Europe
12) What changes do you think can revolutionise cricket in Chile?
In my country, people should stop thinking about cricket as an elite social class sport, because it’s in that way that many people think about it. Many people confuse it with croquet too.
I believe cricket has all the conditions to be a very popular sport in South America. It’s a game that can be played for anyone and you can play it for many years if you want. We are a football loving country. The community around is very important, for “las barras”, this cheering communities, your national squad or your club is a very important part of your life. It’s something about our culture, something that gives you a “belonging” feeling.
Boys and girls want to play other sports than football or tennis, globalisation has helped a lot to show other kind of sport and realities that makes you think if you don’t like football or you don’t feel comfortable playing football, there are other very popular sports that you can practice. Schools, university and communities are a great places to expand cricket.
13) How would you describe the team's atmosphere and attitude?
The team is a group of talented players. They are very happy and loves to be together. They love music, dance and they have a great spirit of sacrifice to play for your country and do what you love against theses odds that I’ve explained before.
14) How difficult was it for the Chile Cricket to come out from the World War II gap?
I think Chile is until now fighting to show up. I mean, there are register of cricket clubs in Chile in the 1800’s but after that it started to vanish. In fact, we celebrate this year as two hundred years from the first cricket match played in Chile that we have in registers. So, I think WWII just made it vanish completely here and since then Cricket started to recover in some places in Chile, but very slowly and i’m not sure but I can say that this progress has been made in the last 20-25 years.
Also Read : Aarti Bidari - inspirational cricket journey of Rising Cricket for Women, Nepal
15) What are the facilities that the Chilean Cricket association provides the team?
They keep us informed about ICC news, matches and facilitates to use a ground to play cricket. We can't use it often because it is very difficult to arrive there where the ground is, since it is far from the city where most part of the team lives. So we practice in a cricket net in a hostel called La Casa Roja, because the owner is a cricket fan and let us play and train there. This support is fundamental for our training. We use public park in Santiago too.
16) What are some of the struggles that the team and you at a player's level have gone through during this journey?
We don’t receive any financial support, that’s why we organise ourselves to make fundings campaigns for the whole team. So, we make social media campaigns to sell t-shirts, pins, caps and even sold lunches once to pay for our Hostelling, uniforms, tournament expenses, tickets. Sadly, sometimes, money has a big role to play and not just your talent. Also, we don’t have coach and sufficient cricket equipments. We train learning from videos or when cricketers (at MCC) sometimes visit Chile.
17) If cricket had not happened, what else would have? Tell us about your other passions and interests?
I graduated in arts and I’m interested in media art, sound, video and tech. I love music and reading. I love to learn things!
When I’m not playing cricket, I’m working in audiovisual preservation in the national library of Chile.
I think if cricket had not happened, other sport would have been my interest. To be a sport woman is my dream since I was a child.
18) Complete Chile Cricket squad?
Jeannette Garcés (c)
Franchesca Moya (wk)
Yaritza Beltrán (wk)
María José Saavedra
Pic Credits : Catalina Juger