As Tauranga gets ready to host six of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup's 31 matches next year it is hoped the tournament will help boost the women's sport in the region.
The full schedule for the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2021 was released yesterday, with Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval confirmed to host five pool matches and one semifinal during the international competition between February 6 to March 7, 2021.
Among them is at least one New Zealand White Ferns match-up. The venue will also host at least one Australia clash and at least one England match. The Bay of Plenty's schedule also includes three back-to-back Sunday afternoons starting with a showdown with reigning champions England on February 21.
Tauranga is one of six New Zealand host cities, which includes Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Bay of Plenty Cricket Association's women's cricket officer Rebecca Yee is excited by the impact the tournament can have on women's cricket in the region.
"We're really looking forward to the World Cup ... it's a really good look for the sport," Yee says.
She says being able to host the top players in the women's game shows locals there is a future in the sport for them.
While the women's game is established in the Western Bay of Plenty, it is growing in Rotorua, Whakatāne and Taupō, with programmes in place targeting those areas. She says it is a slow build but it is happening.
"We've just had our first two Rotorua girls join our rep team," Yee says.
Those girls are now playing club cricket against the boys, she says.
Yesterday, Yee was at a girl's cricket festival involving 28 Western Bay of Plenty primary school teams with about 10 players in each.
It'll be those girls who will enjoy going to the women's world cup games at Bay Oval next year.
New Zealand, Australia, England and South Africa have already qualified for the World Cup. The remaining four teams will be established following the completion of the ICC Women's Championship and a subsequent qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka in July.
The eight-team round-robin format will see all teams play each other, with the top four qualifying for the semifinals.
The White Ferns will play the tournament opener at Eden Park on Waitangi Day and White Ferns captain Sophie Devine is excited to play Australia at Wellington's Basin Reserve on February 13.
"Playing in a World Cup against our arch-rivals in my home city will be an unreal feeling," Devine said.
ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney says the organisation is committed to elevating women's cricket as part of its strategy to grow and develop the global game.
"We want to build a sustainable foundation for women's cricket. It is about building a product that fans want to watch, that kids want to take up, that sponsors and broadcasters want to be part of."
With the 30-day, 31-match schedule now locked in, ICC Women's Cricket World Cup chief executive Andrea Nelson is excited to see people in Tauranga and New Zealand get behind the event.
"Our team is proud to be delivering a tournament where Kiwis across the whole country, in each of our six host cities, can really get involved in what is a truly special event. We can't wait to see the excitement build around New Zealand as we prepare to roll out the welcome mat for the rest of the world," Nelson said.
Bay Oval's ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2021 schedule:
Wednesday, February 10: Australia vs Qualifier.
Sunday, February 14: Qualifier vs Qualifier.
Wednesday, February 17: New Zealand vs Qualifier.
Sunday, February 21: England vs Qualifier.
Sunday, February 28: Qualifier vs Qualifier.
Wednesday, March 3: Semi-Final 1 (1st vs 4th).
ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2021 at a glance:
Hosted in New Zealand from February 6 to March 7, 2021.
6 host cities: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin.