Cricket, something much more than just a sport. Something which has no boundaries to the emotions attached to it and something that is much more than just some thing. There is not a place in the world where cricket is not admired or played, from gullies to international grounds. From the most developed areas to even refugee camps and hard to reach places, cricket is in every heart, every soul! There are still many countries where cricket is not professionally recognised, but is slowly inching towards being a full time professional career choice and sport.
Brazil, a country in the South America. Home to a highly cultural life and the resident to the enrapturing Amazon! And like every other country in the world, cricket beats there as well! The Brazil women's National Cricket team led by Roberta Moretti. The team in the summer of 2018, was granted full Women's T20 international rights by the International Cricket Council (ICC). It's first international T20s were played between Chile, Mexico and Peru in August 2018. It is currently ranked 41st in the ICC women's T20I Rankings.
Focusing on the latest techniques and bringing out the best from the country's side, the Brazil Women's National Cricket Team is surely set to become a great side to watch out for in the coming future.
Female cricket brings to you the journey of Roberta Moretti, the Brazilian Captain and a super exciting and surprising story of Brazil Women's Cricket. In an Exclusive Interview with the Female Cricket team, Roberta tells about how cricket happened, what is Brazil Cricket all about and where she sights it in another decade.
Which year did Brazil women's cricket began?
The first Brazilian National squad started in 2007. We had a group of players from our Capital, Brasilia, that played bilateral games against Argentina that year for the first time. The games were played also in 2009 and the following year the Women's South American Championship was created with the addition of Chile as the third country playing. Currently we also have Peru and Mexico playing this tournament.
The social projects in Brazil were setup in 2012, in Pocos de Caldas and Brasilia, and we have close to 3000 Brazilian kids playing the sport every week – and around 50% of them are girls.
New net facilities in Poços de Caldas!!!— Cricket Brasil (@brasil_cricket) March 27, 2019
Our dream coming true!
Little by little ????? pic.twitter.com/FzmwJvMcOF
What is the selection procedure currently to become a part of Brazil National Cricket team?
We have two National Ladies Tournaments every year – one in Pocos de Caldas and another in Brasilia. From these tournaments, we select the best players to compose our squad. The selection is done with the support of our coaches, captains and the analysed data. We are also always looking for new talented players that are coming from the social projects that could be potential National representatives. It is exciting!
Where do you see the team in about another 7-8 years?
I do believe in the potential of our work here and the that the future is bright! So we are really hoping that in 7-8 years we will competing globally in ICC World Cricket league and LA Olympics in 2028.
How is the composition of the team in terms of batting, bowling and fielding?
We are a young side – so we have a very athletic fielding. We incentivize all players to have a very positive attitude, playing happy cricket and visualizing every ball. Our bowling has developed to have more variety and precision – with the experienced and young bowlers.
And we are working hard to get the same on our batting – it is a nice mixture of players and has been evolving quickly.
Any inspiration that the girls in Brazil cricket follows?
You know, that is a good question. Because as cricket is not a traditional sport for us, we don't have strong professional female role models in the country. So in the first years of Cricket here, we always looked up to our coaches, previous National players. But now, with Cricket running in our veins and all the internet coverage that we have the role models are very present!
I absolutely adore Meg Lanning and the Southern Stars – I even cried when I met her a couple of years ago. Ellyse Perry is a mega super star that is a massive inspiration. But we also have Bates, Kapp, Taylor, Raj, Sciver, Shrubsole, Healy, Kaur, Knight! It is amazing the number of players that you can follow and have as your inspiration now. In the Brazilian team, each one has its own preference amongst these awesome Stars and everyone has a massive respect and admiration for all!
Do you think the cricket in Brazil is ready to be taken up as a full fledged profession?
Not yet. We are still introducing cricket in Brazil as a sport that can be played by all. Although the response has been incredible, we are in still growing and that is being done in a structured way to be as stable as any good foundation should be – so, we are up-skilling potential leaders to be coaches, selecting good projects to take Cricket as part of their program, creating a structure pathway for girls and boys that want to play into the next level, and having competitions at all levels that can assure players are involved and seeking to grow in the sport.
This pathway is growing and we can see that participant numbers increasing as it goes – but for a full career as a player we still have a long way to go here. But I believe it can happen.
In which department do you think the team can be really competitive against the world's best?
I will quote our mentor and President, Matt Featherstone, on this one: “To compete against the best you need to train, play and practice with the best. As you all know, you can’t be what you can’t see. So we are working with the ICC giving our Ladies team more quality experiences to be able to compete with better playing nations. This will take time and specific funding but the quicker we can start the process, is better.”
Since how many years have you been working with Brazil Cricket and what kind of difference do you see since your journey and today?
I started playing in 2013 and as a scratch golfer, I thought that Cricket would be a good team sport to add in my life. Since the beginning I wanted to play for the Brazilian National team and be a player that made the difference - but obviously these things don’t happen overnight. I was always very dedicated and I believe that due to the experience of playing golf competitively, the mindset helped me to achieve good things in a good time frame. In 2014 I was called to play for the National team for the first time and in 2015 I became captain from our local club, Cricket Pocos de Caldas. And in my mind that is where everything started to turn around.
I realized that as a captain of my club I had to be a role model and bring the best out of every member of my team. And this work started on training the girls not only technically, but as a whole athlete to be the best you can be - as a player and as a PERSON. We had very good success with this attitude and in 2017 I became Brazilian National Captain – which was a great honour – and we are expanding the work done in our club to the whole country now.
In my opinion, the biggest difference we have now is that the team is more united, we are a strong group. We support each other and believe in everyone's success. Brazilians play cricket in a happy way: We sing, we dance, we smile all the way – so why not bring all that energy into the group?
What is it that is holding back the team from coming up at the international level under the ICC?
We are working hard to fulfil the ICC membership requirements of 10 teams playing competitive hardball cricket. We hope to have this completed by the end of the year.
Once we have ticked this box, we can start playing full ICC Competitions.
I also feel that the ICC need to offer more financial support to the women’s game, It has improved significantly over the last few years, but still has some way to go.
Not many people see cricket in Brazil as a profession.
We are still growing here. We hope in the future to have opportunities for bowling, batting, fielding coaches, club and team managers into the country.
What changes do you think can revolutionise cricket in Brazil?
We are slowly changing the image of Cricket in Brazil. Our major goal is to make cricket a sport that is available for all. We are working hard on training Brazilians to coach the game as we know we are not lacking players to play the great game (Brazil has 200 million people ?). Our projects Black Shirts is focused on upskilling leaders to coach and take the Great game of Cricket forward!
Becoming an Olympic sport will also be a massive step to revolutionize Cricket in Brazil.
Also Read : Cricket in Island Countries
How would you describe the team's atmosphere and attitude?
Ow, you always see the Brazilian National Ladies team arriving from a distance. We are happy people! We are very positive and we will never give up. But our strongest values are basic cricket values: respect, discipline and integrity. I believe that if the group is structure on these three pillars, you have an actual Team! Everything else is a consequence.
What are the facilities that the Brazil Cricket association provides the team?
In Poços de Caldas, we have brand new netting and fielding area for practice, and since 2017 we have our own cricket ground. This ground has been the area for over 20 T20 games in the past year and competition area for local club and National tournaments. A great achievement for us.
This year we are also building a training center that will be able to accommodate all players from the National team for coaching.
In Brasília, the club is based within Clube Nipo where the National - men’s and ladies - is played every year. We have teams from Brasília and São Sebastião in that area! They have a net structure that is used for training session for these teams.
What are some of the struggles that the team and players have gone through their journey?
I think the team faced (and faces) some kind of struggles that most female sports do - with the addition of cricket not being a sport commonly played in Brazil (yet), like: players are self-funded in championships – which can be tough for most of them as international competitions are very expensive, difficulty buying appropriate equipment in the country, shortage of coaches and participants in some areas of the country, and as Cricket is not a profession players need to go to university or work and trouble fitting all the training sessions and tournaments.
We work to manage these items the best way we can – fundraisings, Coaching upskilling, training hours for all, but we know that these issues are still a reality here and in South America.
How popular is men's cricket in Brazil as compared to women's cricket?
There are some benefits on not being a traditional cricket country and one of them is that cricket in Brazil is not a men’s sport mostly. We are introducing the sport and in the development stages our numbers are pretty much 50-50% on girl-boys participation. And we are working hard to keep it similar through the pathway too. Men have been playing the game for a longer period in Brazil because we had foreigners playing it here previously, but for the Brazilians cricket has no favorite gender!
So we are very close on that!
Are there any school / college progam being run to promote women's cricket there?
All school programs are run for boys and girls! We assure to have female and male coaches on the program to create rolemodels for all. As the pathway goes a little further, we have women’s cricket practice sessions for all and somes exclusive for girls.
And there are a few reasons to have an exclusive time for the girls: increase their confidence, create the group and leaders, improve their abilities. Since we added this extra time, we noticed the participation has increased, they are more confident - and bringing more friends! Positive for everyone!
Has Brazil cricket participated in M.A.D Campaign?
Yes!!! We started MAD last year introducing the program into key schools from our base. It was a success - instantly the girls started being more involved with the club and being more present.
This month we had another event and was absolutely great! The girls played, we had music, we had games and the atmosphere was incredible.
And that is what I believe MAD should be about: happy, fun, great cricket! Moms and daughters deserve this time!
What is that "one" best thing required today to take Brazil women's cricket to next level?
We believe that becoming an Olympic sport would be a game changer, not only for Brazil but for our South American countries and countries in the development of Cricket.
Give names of the current Brazil women's Cricket squad.
Roberta Moretti Avery (C)
Ana Elisa Vicentin (VC)
Maria Eduarda Costa (wk)
Lindsay Mariano (wk)