Celebration of Soroptimist Support for Girls Cricket in Hertfordshire


The St Albans Soroptimists held a celebration on 8 April in support of girls’ cricket in Hertfordshire, The Club’s support for girls’ cricket is a legacy of their late Member Audrey Collins OBE who died in 2010. Audrey was an inspirational Soroptimist – a pioneer of Women’s cricket and a trail blazer for women. Please read more about the legacy project here : www.sigbi.org/st-albans/charities/cricket/

During the evening we heard back first-hand from the young women who went to the first ever County Ladies tour to Sri Lanka last autumn. Our sponsorship included kit bags (one is in the photo) so that the team looked professional at all times – there is more about the tour on the website www.sigbi.org/st-albans-and-district/2018/cricket-tour/

Supporting women and girls sport is really important for mental health and personal development – clearly demonstrated by the attitude and determination of the girls and young women involved in cricket in Hertfordshire #SoroptimistsThinkOnIt

Rebecca Kelly told us her personal experience of how Audrey Collins encouraged Rebecca into cricket originally with the Radlett Vagabonds ladies and now Rebecca is a cricket coach for Boxmoor CC herself. Rebecca found Audrey to be an inspirational teacher and cricketer right into her old age – it was lovely to hear a first hand account of our wonderful Audrey – please see below for the text of Rebecca’s speech.

Tom Ruxton from Abbots Langley Cricket Club updated us on girls’ cricket in Hertfordshire. This year in the Junior League for girls there are Under 10’s, Under 12’s and the Audrey Collins Soroptimist Under 14’s League. The intake of girls in the All Stars for age 5 to 8 looks promising for the future. Sadly Harpenden, who won the Audrey Collins league for the last 2 years have not entered this year. Generally cricket playing numbers are down substantially in the UK, but the girls are holding their own in this tough environment.

Jonathan Cirkel was the coach for the Herts Ladies Tour to Sri Lanka last year. He showed us some wonderful photos and it was obvious how proud he was of the team and what they achieved on tour – not just in terms of cricket but in personal development too from the immersive experience they had all been through in a different country with a very different culture. This was their first overseas tour and he said “the girls were fabulous”.

Amy Price, Captain of the Ladies Tour to Sri Lanka gave us some more insight to the tour – please see below for the text of Amy’s speech. Amy’s enthusiasm for the game doesn’t really come out in the text below. She has managed to do all of this while completing her dissertation for her degree – no mean feat! We know that Amy has a bright future in cricket and Herts County Cricket must be very proud of her.

We asked the Team Members who were at the celebration for their “best bits” and they said “bonding as a Team”, “the standard of cricket”, “the tea”, “playing on international pitches”.

The tour was obviously a resounding success because they are planning a tour to South Africa in 2020 – watch this space!

All of this has made us realise how worthwhile it has been for us to support the tour, women and girls’ cricket in Hertfordshire and how proud we are that this is Audrey’s legacy.

After all of this we had a proper celebration with cakes, snacks, nibbles and soft drinks  with time for Soroptimists and cricketers to catch up properly (and take a photo – see above!).

We also had a collection for the Hope Foundation Cricket World Cup for Street Children. Details can be found on www.streetchildunited.org/our-sports-events/street-child-cricket-world-cup-2019/ – It says “Watch the Street Child Cricket World Cup Finals from the stands at Lord’s on 7 May. The Hope Foundation are supporting a team from North India – see here: www.streetchildunited.org/team/india-north/ The collection raised a brilliant £76.33, which the Club has topped up to £100 and sent off to the Hope Foundation.

Memories of Audrey Collins OBE by Rebecca Kelly, Coach Boxmoor CC 8 April 2019

When thinking of Audrey, there are key words that best describe her personality and what she brought to girls and women’s cricket.

Opportunity – Audrey created an opportunity for countless girls and women. I started playing cricket at my secondary school with the boy’s team. I was fortunate enough to have a cricket teacher who was inclusive and allowed me to play with the boys. Not all girls were. Audrey provided the next step in my cricketing career. I met her when I was 12, and she was not a character you forget! Boundless energy, drive, positivity and enthusiasm. From there on, I was able to play for girls and women’s Radlett Vagabonds Cricket Club and county cricket. If we struggled to get to a game Audrey drove, she scored at the games and she gave lots of encouragement throughout. I have many amusing memories of us all bundled into her Renault Cleo, attempting to map read (parked up on roundabouts, yes roundabouts! This was before satnavs after all), getting lost in and around Cambridge, then making it in the nick of time to play. ALL of this was thanks to Audrey. Having now started coaching myself, I am only coming to realize, and really appreciate, how much time and energy Audrey put in to give us this opportunity. The expectation back then, by many, was that girls didn’t play cricket. We were fortunate enough to have a small support network of receptive parents and teachers with Audrey leading the way for us.

Lessons in cricket and life – On our first U.13’s East of England game (now Hertfordshire CCC), myself and 10 other girls reached a venue nervously excited and not really sure on what to do next. Before the game started, Audrey – who was in her late 70’s/ early 80’s – took charge and started bowling to the opening batsman to help them warm up, and then ran after the balls to field them. She then gave me a short lesson in fielding positions, before reminding us to tuck in our shirts. After all, we were representing East of England. Those reluctant to do so, didn’t escape that easily. Audrey ran towards them notifying them if they didn’t tuck in their shirts she would do it for them!! Having seen her run around the field earlier on, we believed her and promptly tucked our shirts in!! This is one of my fondest memories of Audrey. She wanted us to have fun and achieve, but equally when you represent your school, club or county you look smart and make a good impression.

Nurturing – I’ve recently been doing my Level 2 Cricket Coaching Course, and coaching has changed since I was playing. Players were taught to play straight constantly. No bad thing, but it did perhaps limit players batting capacity in other technical areas. Nowadays, players are encouraged to play – first and foremost – to have fun. Technique is important, but so is self-learning. If a player presents a slightly unusual style, as long as it is safe and legal, it shouldn’t be changed. The game evolves and so must its players. Audrey did demonstrate us technique, but she also allowed us to self-learn, which in turn gave us freedom to experiment and try new styles. If we played a good shot, fielded a ball or bowled a good ball, Audrey would holler from the boundary “WELLLLL DONE!”, or if something didn’t go our way she would shout out “OHHHH, BAD LUCK!” There was never negativity, such as1 “You shouldn’t have done that” or “That was wrong…”. Instead, only encouragement and praise, and “How about next time you…” Like today’s coaching, Audrey allowed us to develop our playing style and game by learning from our experiences.

All in all, Audrey undoubtedly had a passion for cricket, but additionally her passion to help girls and women in this game showed her selfless nature, and I think made her a TRAIL BLAZER. She led the way, and created a future path for many, many girls and women to come. I remember being up on Tottenham Court Road in London when in my teens, and was amazed to see her photo feature on a Nike billboard with the words: “Just Do It”. This very much encompassed her attitude, and I am delighted to see that her legacy continues to do so.

 

Hertfordshire Ladies Tour to Sri Lanka  2018 – by Amy Price, Captain, Hertfordshire Ladies Cricket Team

  • So last year we had our first trip overseas to Sri Lanka. We went for 10 days and visited Colombo, Kandy and Negombo.
  • After hours of travelling and one lost kit bag which so happened to be mine which got left behind in Dubai we finally made it to the first beautiful hotel.
  • The food and hospitality was outstanding and our tour team were really helpful. We had our first training session on the Saturday ready for our first game on the Sunday.
  • The tour company had organised for us to go and see England Men vs Sri Lanka Saturday evening which was an added bonus to our busy itinerary.
  • Conditions were tough but can’t really argue being in hot weather at the end of October. The other games we had were also a good experience and a really good team environment which brought us all together.
  • Other highlights of the tour was visiting the elephants at the orphanage and seeing them all content in the huge lake and being cared for. A pit stop to the tea factory was also very much appreciated. We also took the time to go and visit the tooth relic temple in Kandy which was really interesting and an experience.
  • Kandy was a beautiful place to visit, our hotel was up in the mountain and the view was outstanding. Our last stop was Negombo which was the beach part of our visit. We took full advantage of the beach being 5 walking steps from our hotel and enjoyed the sunset.
  • The tour was a really good experience and we are really looking forward to our next tour. We are also very grateful for the sponsorship money that went towards our tour bags. They proved handy with the amount of water bottles we were carrying!