Exclusive Report on Gibraltar Women’s Cricket – Interview with Aroa Nuñez

From gullies to grounds, from camps to coasts, from villages to cities, from pooling money to buy a cricket ball to fighting for making a name in international cricket, cricket makes a person, a team much more than just a cricketer. These girls from Gibraltar, a British territory have slowly been earning a name in the game of cricket. The girls who started to play cricket in school and went on to become eligible for a national team, are working inch by inch and preparing themselves for playing at the International level. The girls from Gibraltar play for the spirit of cricket, play for each other. There’s so much more to their story, their lives, their cricket.

Team Female Cricket brings to you this super exciting story of the Girls of Gibraltar through an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Aroa Nunez!

1) Which year did Gibraltar women’s cricket began? 

Girls in school have played cricket in Gibraltar since the very early years.

However, Women’s cricket in Gibraltar began formally in 2008 when Richard Askew and Mark Bacarese, the Cricket Development Officer at the time, came into the local girls’ comprehensive school delivering cricket sessions to the during P.E. lessons.

This then developed into lunchtime and after-school sessions.  As time went by, numbers swelled and this resulted in the first girl’s national cricket squad. In 2010 the girls went to Malvern College to compete in their annual cricket festival where they won 5 out of 6 games.

In 2012 the girls travelled to Utrecht, Netherlands, and made their first appearance in the European women’s T20 tournament playing against the likes of Italy, Belgium and Germany. This was their first experience of competitive European women’s cricket. 

In 2014 Berlin, Germany, the T20 Tournament became the last competition the girls played abroad due to some unfortunate circumstances. They were challenged against Italy, Denmark and France to name a few. The girls really benefited from these tournaments, as there was a massive improvement in their skills and development. Outside of the cricket field, the girls were able to network and share their cricket experiences with other players.

2) Where do you see the team in about another 7-8 years?

Gibraltar Cricket would like to see the Women’s Squad having regular competitions across Europe to develop. We seek on having tournaments on the Rock of Gibraltar, as the redevelopment of cricket facilities will be completed by summer 2019. This will hopefully entice people to play, as the facility will include very good facilities.

With regards to the Women’s Squad involvement in Gibraltar Cricket as a whole, it is Gibraltar Cricket’s intention for women’s cricket to be run and lead by women for women. There is abundance in talent in first and middle schools, which we need to tap into. We hope to be in a position sooner rather than later to be developing these younger girls, to have a solid domestic structure, to feed and to form national youth squads to play overseas to compete in the years to come.

3) How is the composition of the team in terms of batting, bowling and fielding?

The Team has always had a fairly strong fielding and bowling side.  However, on our last tournament to Berlin, we stepped up the training and our batting had definitely improved, allowing us to perform to a better standard.

The squad has always been a very young team so they are quite athletic. We pride ourselves in having a very positive attitude where we all play for each other as a family.

4) Any inspiration that the girls in Gibraltar cricket follows? 

The girls play for each other and trying to improve, as a squad is a big source of inspiration. Having a closer look at the players from other countries across some of the tournaments the girls have played in constantly inspire the girls; an example of this is Sterre Kalis. Chrissie McNally and Aggatha Acris played against Kalis in Holland, who was amazing at only 15 then and has now gone on to play for Essex and teams in Australia.

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Creating these relationships our players have managed to stay in touch with her and watch Kalis develop from such a young age. She’s smashing it… literally. ‘Sterre is someone we can look to as inspiration as what someone from a smaller cricket nation can go on to achieve.’  Chrissie McNally

5) Do you think the cricket in Gibraltar is ready to be taken up as a full-fledged profession?

Associate Cricket globally does not allow for cricket to be taken up as a full-fledged profession due to the fact that there is not enough competition at this level and the standard is not high enough to allow for full-time cricketers (women). As such, Gibraltar follows the global trend and therefore Gibraltar is not ready for cricket to be a full-time profession.

Notwithstanding the above, we have had our own girls playing cricket for their universities and clubs across the UK with one player, Lauren Payas, representing Northumberland at Minor County level.

We have had a number of players going abroad to play in mixed-teams in order to develop their cricket skills and knowledge. Noelle Laguea and Agatha Acris had the opportunity to play for the Scotland Women’s Development XI Team in 2013 and gained a lot of regional experience for that.

Patrick Demaerschalk, a Belgian cricket coach, set up a Continental Women’s Cricket Team which Agatha Acris and Chrissie McNally had the privilege to go to. The players found this to be a great experience in order to share ideas and play together against the Netherlands select who have a very a good women’s cricket set up.

Gibraltar Cricket is working hard in growing and developing girls and women’s cricket in order to have a structured program, which will lay the foundations for the years to come. Gibraltar Cricket would like to have more women leading the coaching of girls, as this will hopefully form the pathway required to grow the game.

6) In which department do you think the team can be really competitive against the worlds best? 

The squad are naturally competitive and can accomplish anything they set their eyes on. On past tournaments teams have commented on our players’ positive attitudes and enthusiasm on the field. Gibraltar Cricket are very optimistic on our players and how hard working they are. Their effort and commitment will reap rewards in the years to come.

Competing against the worlds best is a bit of a stretch considering how relatively inexperienced women’s cricket in Gibraltar is.

7) Since how many years have you been working with Gibraltar Cricket and what kind of difference do you see since your journey and today?

Noelle Laguea our longest running female player says “I’ve been involved with cricket for the last 13 years and have had the opportunity to see women’s cricket develop in Gibraltar over these years.

Women’s cricket in Gibraltar started out with two girls attending Westside School lunchtime cricket sessions with plastic equipment and tennis balls, and within just a few years it developed into a full squad who trained consistently to compete (and perform very well) against other developing nations on grass wickets even though we do not have any at home!

Although starting with only a few girls in our first couple of years, a lot of our training or games were played with or against the boy’s teams. This meant that the few girls that were involved with cricket back then could bat and bowl against boys their own age – and did this well!”

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8) What is it that is holding back the team from coming up at the international level under the ICC?

Gibraltar, as a country, is very privileged to have a number of sporting associations, cultural organisations such as dance schools and academies of the arts as well as other organisations such as scouts. As such, it is always a challenge to grow numbers when there is a lot on offer in Gibraltar society.

That said Gibraltar Cricket is working hard on its women’s cricket strategy in order to grow the game and build the base. This will allow us to work up to meet the ICC criteria.

In the past, facilities and a formal women’s cricket have held us back. Nonetheless the Cricket community are looking forwards to our new facilities as mentioned earlier later in the summer of 2019. More so, Gibraltar Cricket is committed to reinvigorate the structure of girls and women’s cricket.

9) What changes do you think can revolutionise cricket in Gibraltar?

From a national squad player’s point of view, it is important to target the junior girls’ cricket. When Gibraltar Cricket has the proper foundations in place for junior cricket, Women’s Cricket will be able to prepare for the future.

10) How would you describe the team’s atmosphere and attitude?

Fun and noisey! They play with a smile on their faces.

The squad are a very positive group of girls and will never give up. Our core values are respect, discipline and integrity.

11) What are the facilities that the Gibraltar Cricket association provides the team? 

Gibraltar has limited space in terms of facilities. However, any facility is shared amongst the men, women, boys and girls. We are lucky that Gibraltar Cricket has always looked after us and they provide us with what they have.

However, 2019 sees a wholesale change of sporting facilities in Gibraltar and Cricket will be benefiting from Government investment in sport. The facilities include indoor and outdoor nets, two gyms, brand-new cricket ground with all of ICC’s requirements met such as sightscreens, an indoor sports hall, as well as 4 changing rooms, officials’ rooms, lecture rooms for courses and a members’ room. The redevelopment will hopefully entice more people coming back to the game or starting their love for the game. This will allow the culture to grow and make cricket mainstream in Gibraltar.

12) What are some of the struggles that the team and players have gone through their journey?

Having a great relationship with one and other it was the starting point for the team; there was a great improvement of their skills and development however the main struggle for Gibraltar Women Squad was for the older players (18-19) leaving to study at university overseas. This left the rest of the team unmotivated and not wanting to train that ended up a partial break for the National women’s squad.

13) Give names of the complete Gibraltar women’s Cricket squad.

The last Gibraltar National Women Squad:

Agatha Acris

Amy Valverde

Aroa Nuñez

Chrissie McNally

Elizabeth Ferrary

Lauren Payas

Noelle Laguea

Nicole Valverde

Ashley Garcia

Arianne Mauro

Lizzie Moreno

Kamyl Hammond

On behalf of Gibraltar National Women Squad we would like to give a special thanks to; Mark Bacarese, Matthew Hunter, Tim Azzopardi, Adam Orfila, Richard Askew, Ross Brooks, Gareth Dawson, Noelle Laguea, Lauren Payas, Lizzie Ferrary, Kerion Ferrary, Amy Valverde, Sunil Chandiramani, Aroa Nunez and Guy Dumas because of these people Gibraltar Women’s Cricket has been able to exceed and continue to do so.

Vishal Yadav, Founder & CEO at Female Cricket

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