Selina Solman has been captain of the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu Cricket National Women’s Team for over five years. She has seen her side break through social barriers, made them a top 30 team in the world and the highest-ranked sporting side in Vanuatu, overcome personal challenges and lived in other countries alien to her, all things nerve-racking to any person.
However, it was the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu National Men’s Team that made her most nervous.
Solman and three other senior women’s players, Rachel Andrew, Valenta Langiatu and Nasimana Navaika – all contracted as professional players and ambassadors of the VCA’s Social Impact Programs – began training with the National Men’s side just over six months ago. A feat very rarely seen in cricket (if ever), particularly in High Performance programs, but one that has brought about rave reviews from the female players involved, Solman told Richard Ewart on ABC’s Pacific Beat radio show.
“I was like ‘oh no … I think he’s just trying to punish us,’ but then I came to realise that he was just trying to push us to get us better. It was really really intense training, very good training, I think a lot of people saw the difference,” Solman told Pacific Beat.
Solman and her teammates found themselves batting against the fastest of Vanuatu’s male bowlers, and the captain doesn’t deny that she was a little scared at the beginning.
“I think I missed half of the balls, but then when I started hitting the ball, I was just looking forward, I was like ‘OK, bring it on’.
“It was scary but exciting at the same time.”
Speaking to Ewart, Vanuatu Cricket CEO, Tim Cutler, applauded the transition and training regime set out by the former Vanuatu Cricket High Performance Manager, Jeremy Bray, continuing that he believes Bray has left a lasting legacy.
“Rather than spreading himself too thinly across both squads and trying to be ‘everything to everyone,’ Jeremy suggested we integrate the women into the men’s squad,” said Cutler.
“It was one of those light bulb moments, like ‘why didn’t we think of that before?!'”
When asked whether this program could be adopted by other cricketing nations in similar situations, or even the consideration of a formal professional event involving both male and female players, Cutler was positive in his response.
“(The) Players are all friends and/or family and all get along really well. The integration was amazing. So, I think you would have to work through all of that, but I’d be absolutely recommending it… there’s a kernel there definitely, something that could be worked with in the future.”
The full ABC article and Pacific Beat interview is available HERE.
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SOURCE: VANUATU CRICKET ASSOCIATION