A winning initiative for women’s cricket

Wednesday 5 April 2023

Academy of Sport member Sarah Calkin is part of the team responsible for the success of the Manawatū Cricket Association (MCA) Girls Club, which was recognised at the ANZ New Zealand Cricket Awards last month.

Sarah Calkin with former White Fern and current president of the New Zealand Cricket Board, Lesley Murdoch ONZM MBE.

Last updated: Wednesday 24 May 2023

Despite dedicating five years to the programme and now fulfilling a paid role as Club Coordinator, Sarah says the MCA Girls Club has never felt like work.

“It’s more of a passion project for me. I started working for the Manawatū Cricket Association to give back, as the association and the game have done a lot for myself and my family. I have seen firsthand how cricket can transform the lives of young people. I was lucky to find my ‘why’ early on and it remains my biggest motivator today.”

Before the inception of MCA Girls Club in 2015, there was no clear path for girls interested in playing cricket in the Manawatū. Eight years on, the programme has been recognised for making a significant contribution to the growth of women’s cricket in the region, being a club for girls managed by girls.

The programme took out the Best Female Engagement Initiative award, which acknowledges the club as an environment that provides female cricketers with a quality cricket experience, the support necessary to improve skills and the ability to engage with further opportunities.

Sarah says it was an honour to receive the award and attend the New Zealand Cricket Awards.

“It was cool to connect and share ideas with other likeminded people who are all doing great things in the cricket community. Past and present legends of the game also attended the awards, so it was awesome to have the opportunity to meet with some of them.”

The MCA Girls Club now has 44 members and fields five teams in the dual pitch, incrediball and hardball competitions. It has also played a major role in the growth of cricket at Palmerston North Girls’ High School and provides pathways to move into coaching, mentoring and managing roles.

Sarah, who also coaches junior cricket, say she’s proud to be involved in providing a supportive and fun space for female athletes to get involved in the game.

“I love running MCA Girls Club. I was one of the original members when it was created so it feels quite full circle for me. The girls are awesome to work with and I love watching them grow and make new friends throughout their time in our club.”

Sarah is currently in her third year of studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in finance. She says her academic journey has provided many transferable skills which have helped her run the programme.

“I originally started out in a sport management degree, so there were a lot of concepts which carried over to what I was doing. Despite changing into a business degree which is not directly related, I’ve found the communication and organisation concepts have been useful in my role.”

As the programme continues to reach new heights, Sarah says it takes a village to maintain the momentum.

“I want to say a huge thank you to our coaches, parents and supporters as without them the club wouldn’t be where it is today. Also to the Manawatū Cricket Association for always supporting us and helping us to showcase the female game.”

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