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Starting small and dreaming big

The Northlands girls team: Seen with manager Kellie Smith are (standing, left to right): Paige Marshall, Camya Matthew, Chanz Godwin, Sherne’ McQueen (kneeling) and Camia Matthew. Front row: Amaya Smith, Ramaya Edwards, Brianna Eli. Missing from the photograph is Kaelyn Fleming.  

Kellie Smith has a dream to one day see enough females interested in cricket to create a women’s league in Bermuda.

This year there are two girls teams playing in the Tokio Millennium Re Under-8 League, Northlands and S & R team, who are made up of girls from different schools. The aim is to have the girls enjoy the game while learning the basics and Smith, a teacher at Northlands, said the girls look forward to playing against the boys.

“Last year we were the only girls team and this year this is another girls team in the league and we’re trying to get more girls to join so that eventually Bermuda can have a women’s cricket team again,” said Smith, the mother of Bailey’s Bay player Jordan Smith, who is in school in England.

Last year two girls, LeiLanni Nesbeth and Kayla Raymond, travelled to South Africa with the Under-14 National Academy Development team, a boys’ team, and Smith would like to see more exposure for girls.

“What the Bermuda Cricket Board has been trying to do with the help of Manny Faria is to get a girls school league going to encourage more girls to play cricket,” Smith said. “The group of girls that I have absolutely love it, they couldn’t wait for the season to start again this year.

“They are a wonderful bunch of girls, very well behaved, very respectful and they enjoy the game. They do have a very good support system behind them as far as parents, grandparents and aunts.

“Sometimes when the boys see girls they are like ‘oh, this is going to be an easy game’ but they’ve been surprised a few times and a few of them have been impressed by how some of the girls play. They are a lot stronger than what they thought they were going to be.”

The girls, though some are slightly older than eight, play in the Under-8 League as they are generally behind the boys at the same age.

“They love it, all come out in their cricket whites and when they are being coached once the coach gives them some direction they take it and hang on to it,” Smith said. The Under-8s play eight a side every Saturday morning at the National Sports Centre with games of 12 overs a side.

“A lot of the girls have attended the [BCB] camps and have enjoyed it and we have different coaches who come and work with the girls during training sessions,” said Smith, the team’s manager.

“They allow the girls to play in an age level down and our girls range in ages from six to ten. It’s about getting them involved and exposed. Many of the girls came through the Pee Wee cricket programme and now they play in the Under-8 league. They are still developing and have a long way to go, but the main thing is keeping them interested.”