Girls thrive despite quake

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor


The word is that Christchurch has registered more than 11,000 tremors since the devastating earthquake two years ago.

However, the aftershock has had little impact on the number of girls playing cricket in the biggest city in the South Island.

Barry van Beurten, co-ordinator of the composite Southern Shakers team competing at the annual Riverbend Cricket Camp in Hawke's Bay, says the region has only lost one team from 22 since the quake for Year 6 to 8 pupils.

The invitation side, comprising six clubs, is the first from the South Island to attend - in either boys or girls' divisions - since the event's inception in 1979 with Hastings stalwart Ray Mettrick at the helm.

"We have 10 girls who are in the North Island holidaying with their families with only three flying out especially for the tournament," he says as the trio jet back home today after playing in a four-team girls' competition.

Camp co-ordinator Craig Findlay said they were struggling for girls' teams, with only four in their section - one each from the Bay, Auckland, Wairarapa and Christchurch.

"We do have about 20 girls scattered in boys' teams. Players like [White Fern] Sophie Devine also played in boys' teams."

The camp has an emphasis on enjoyment and participation but is in large part based on coaching and development.

HBCA took over when Mettrick stepped down, with Findlay co-ordinating all but one of those years.

Van Beurten plans to bring a team from his club, St Albans, next summer.

"It'll be a weaker team but it'll be the right grade," he says, after his girls dominated the competition this week, although Cornwall Hastings pushed them to the last over.

Two years ago van Beurten took a team to the Wanganui competition, which has evolved into a respectable high school event. He reckons high school girls have three major tourneys.

Canterbury hosts an under-15 one just before Christmas for Year 7 and 8 pupils and the other one is the Wanganui one.

The Canterbury tournament entices teams from the Deep South as well and ex-White Ferns also present awards to teams.

"Our girls are having a blast at the camp here. You should come and see them. The social aspect is what keeps them playing because they can be together with their friends," says van Beurten of the Brent Davidson-coached side.

The Cantabrians approached Wellington to meet them at the halfway mark near Picton but had little joy.

Wellington, a key team in previous camps here, are notable omissions from Riverbend.

Van Beurten hopes to approach a few other Canterbury clubs to send girls' teams here although he feels six would probably be the ideal number for a robust competition.

"It's a great tournament and we'll definitely be back next year," he says.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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