Friday, 18 April 2014

Interview: Scottish Women's Cricket Association

We spoke to Kari Carswell to get the full story on the SWCA.

It's an exciting time for women's cricket everywhere, and no more so than in Scotland, where Head of Women's Cricket Kari Carswell and her team of enthusiasts and volunteers are starting to build the structures that they hope will one day take the national team - the Wildcats - to the World Cup.

Five years ago, women's cricket in Scotland was at a low ebb, with the national side languishing in the lower depths of the international rankings; and no coherent structures in place for the domestic game.

In 2014 however, things are looking up - with an 8-team elite 'National League' topping a domestic pyramid which includes competitions at all levels, from adult recreational to high school and junior Kwik Cricket for girls.

Now the launch of the SWCA looks to build on this. We started by asking Kari about the explicit aims of the project:

"The SWCA wants to see more girls and women playing cricket, whether that is recreationally or striving to play within the performance programmes. The SWCA also want more females involved in cricket, as scorers, umpires or team managers."

It is important to understand that the SWCA isn't an independent, break-away organisation. It continues to exist within the framework of Cricket Scotland:

"It is very much a partnership with Cricket Scotland with the SWCA initially focusing on supporting the programmes already running."

But in terms of marketing and promotion, it offers a genuinely refreshing opportunity to provide additional visibility and focus for the women's game:

"SWCA can have a real influence on outsiders and reach out to people who don’t know that girls’ and women’s cricket in Scotland exists! Having more people spreading the word about girls’ and women’s cricket can only be a good thing."

At the moment, Kari is the full-time, paid staff of the SWCA, and while she is quick to pass credit onto others who give their time for the love of the game, she also has plans to grow:

"There is a lot of hard work by volunteers to have got to this position and the SWCA want to promote the work... [But] if we are successful in our quest for funders/sponsors I would hope that we could start to bring in additional people for additional coaching and tournament management."

The SWCA has a new web site, which aims to bring together all the news and info about women's cricket in Scotland at http://www.scottishwomencric.com/ under the slogan 'More blue than pink!' We asked Kari what that was all about:

"Sometimes women’s sport gets lost in its championship of how tough it is and how it lacks funding, support and awareness. Unfortunately, there is also a perception that the only thing that might attract a young girl to the sport is a pink bat and pads! We recognise both of these perceptions as not being the whole story."

So, it's about trying to bring some balance to these somewhat juxtaposed notions:

"The strapline, we hope, tells the story - is an association for anyone who has a genuine interest in supporting the sport for women in Scotland."

Finally, we quizzed Kari about the national team - the Wildcats. Having recently seen Ireland compete on the global stage in the Women's World T20, we wondered if she had ambitions of her own:

"Of course I have ambitions for the Wildcats, particularly in my role as Head Coach.  If you ask anyone in the squad if they dreamed of playing in a global tournament, they would say yes. My job, supported by the SWCA, is to try and make that a realistic aim by putting in place programmes and a sustainable pathway that makes it happen."

Can it really happen? Kari is emphatic:

"Yes! Why? - because we are prepared to work hard to try and create the environment - and I have no doubt we have the talent."

Good luck Kari; and thank you so much for talking to us!

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