Today we’re celebrating International Women’s Day as we aim to be the leading sport for women and girls. We want to acknowledge all females within cricket, be they players, coaches, umpires or volunteers.
This week we will be showcasing some of the fantastic females within the sport, and hearing a bit more about their involvement in cricket.
To kick things off, we spoke with Emily Shepard who is a mother of a junior player, turned Cricket Southern Bayside player, turned committee member. She is a fantastic example of the benefit to club of welcoming women, particularly through playing opportunities.
Emily, tell us about your cricket journey
I spent over 20 years absolutely loathing cricket and often described myself as a cricket “widow”. I couldn’t understand how my husband could spend so much time thinking, talking, dreaming, planning, training, playing and celebrating playing cricket. It wasn’t until both my children started playing a few years ago that I decided to make myself useful on the sidelines and learn how to score. That led to a better understanding of what I was always led to believe was the “gentlemen’s game”. As each game passed, my love and understanding of the game grew. I took the opportunity to pull on the pads myself for the first time with Bentleigh Cricket Club in 2019 and it has been an absolute blast.
As a female in a male dominated sport, how have you seen this change over the years?
It has been wonderful to watch the increased exposure women’s cricket has received over the last few years, not just in the media but at a grassroots level too. My daughter plays in an all-girls comp, and now has pathways right up until masters age. That just wasn’t the case 10, 15 years ago. Her only opportunity would have had to play in a boys team, and I’m certain that would have put her off the game forever. Now she sees women playing on the TV, we attend matches and we are surrounded by good role models for our daughters and our sons. I am grateful for all the trailblazers who have fought the long fight to get us to this point today.
What’s your hope for young females participating in the sport for the future?
I am now on the committee of my local club and I feel there is still plenty of work to do to ensure the growth and sustainability of women’s’ cricket in Australia. My hope is to make small but significant changes locally that make an impact on young females participating in cricket in the future. My areas of passion are advocating for uniforms that are fit for purpose, equity in access to equipment and facilities, better representation of women and girls on club websites, social media and in clubrooms, as well as increased opportunities for leadership roles within clubs.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is an important time to celebrate how far we have come (my kids can’t believe there was a time when women weren’t allowed to attend university or vote in this country!), but also acknowledge how far we still have to go to gain gender equality in many areas in Australia and globally. There are still enormous disparities between men and women in areas such as health, education, pay, opportunities, representation in Parliament, the list goes on. It is a day that reminds us that we can all be part of the solution.