I couldn’t help but wonder where some of the players would be if they had benefited from the same coaching opportunities that I had been fortunate enough to receive growing up.
By Sian Kelly | Female Development Officer at Cricket Argentina & equitysport Volunteer
Scrolling down the ‘year abroad’ careers page during my second year of my Spanish and Linguistics degree, indifferently flicking between options to teach English in remote parts of Spain, or participate in an unpaid internship in dull companies… I came across something that caught my eye: ‘Overseas Coach Cricket Argentina’. Having played cricket since I was around 9 years old I immediately did a double take before checking out further details; Cricket Argentina were looking for a team of English coaches to promote cricket in schools and clubs in and around Buenos Aires. I couldn’t believe it- I didn’t even know that cricket was played in Argentina. Three and a half years later and I am still working with Cricket in Buenos Aires… After returning to England following the year abroad placement and finishing my degree, I moved back here on a more permanent basis to continue the role.
Being a female coach, I was delighted to find out when I first enquired about the role that there was a women’s team called Las Flamingos. When I arrived here, I immediately got involved with the girls, and was taken aback by their passion and commitment to the game, as well as being impressed with their level. I couldn’t help but wonder where some of the players would be if they had had the same coaching opportunities that I had been fortunate enough to receive growing up. This is what motivated me the most in my role as an ambassador of the game- to give young girls the opportunity to know and to play this fantastic sport. This season, I was lucky enough to be able to extend my role slightly to become the Female Development Officer, whereby I have been in charge of developing women and girl’s cricket in some of our target clubs and schools. This has involved me leading a team of all-female coaches, the majority coming from the flamingos, in running girls cricket in their own clubs/schools- something that has been a truly fulfilling experience since it allows for more sustainable impact as opposed to a short-term ‘quick fix’.
Whilst Cricket in Argentina is not very well known in comparison to its major sports, it has been played here for over two centuries, with the first record of cricket being 1806, during the British invasions. Years later, Anglo-argentine relations developed, particularly with the construction of the railway system, meaning that many English sport clubs and schools popped up in and around Buenos Aires and cricket was introduced. Therefore, whilst there are many constraints regarding cricketing opportunities in Argentina (such as lack of access to equipment, pitches and competition) there is definitely a very special and historical link to the sport which allows it to have strong foundations. The challenges are managing its growth, and competing with other extremely well-established sports, namely rugby / football for men and hockey for women. Argentine sports players are extremely, extremely dedicated and passionate about their sport & club, so one of the biggest difficulties we face is actually changing the culture to be able to consider playing cricket as an additional sport. Many of the girls are now managing to balance playing both hockey and cricket, and we are working with the hockey sections of clubs to make it beneficial for both parties since the skills are very transferable.
This season in particular has been a very fulfilling experience for me with Cricket Argentina, as I have seen hundreds of women and girls playing this wonderful sport, creating new friendships, memories and achievements, and simply having the opportunity to play a new sport. Continuing to see the Flamingos grow in confidence and improve both individually and as a team unit has also been a fantastic experience, that was unfortunately cut short by the Coronavirus. They are a wonderful group of players to work with, and if you want to know more about what we do you can find Cricket Argentina and Las Flamingos on social media via:
About the Author Sian Kelly is the Head Coach and Female Development Officer of the Argentina Women's Cricket Team: Las Flamingos. A Oxford University graduate with a First Class degree in Spanish and Linguistics, Sian holds a Masters in Sports Management from the Johan Cruyff Institute and also volunteers with equitysport.
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