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Next generation meet pioneers

Photo – Peter Foster

By Lachlan Ellis

Local female cricketers have had the honour of meeting with legends of the game – the first Aussie women to ever play in a World Cup.

Eleven junior cricketers from the Bacchus Marsh Cricket Club’s Under 13 and Under 15 sides headed to Junction Oval in Melbourne and met with the trailblazing 1973 World Cup team last Thursday, who were the first Australians to play in a cricket World Cup, male or female.

The Australian Women’s team that contested the first Women’s World Cup in England in 1973 featured some of the most talented and iconic players in our game’s history, such as Victorians Marg Jennings and Raelee Thompson.

One of those girls was 11-year-old Amelie Strugnell, who said it was inspiring to meet the pioneers of the game.

“It was pretty cool to meet those ladies who are really experienced, and hear about how much they enjoyed it and what it was like for them. They told us to never give up, and always believe in your dreams,” she told the Moorabool News.

“I think it’s something good to look up to, knowing that they didn’t give up even though there were a lot of gender barriers for them back then. They didn’t give up on playing cricket despite that.”

Each of the Bacchus Marsh players presented the 1973 World Cup players with a gift, and in turn were presented with a jersey, with Amelie receiving former captain Marg Jennings’ jersey.

Amelie’s dad and coach of the Under 13 Girls, Rob, said it had been a fantastic opportunity.

“It was pretty surreal. The significance of it all, it didn’t have a lot of exposure back then. But it was an honour meeting them, they were the first ones to ever play in a World Cup, even before the men,” Mr Strugnell said.

“Hearing what they had to go through just to even play for Australia was incredible, compared to what it is now. What I hope the girls take away from it is to keep playing cricket, stick to it and keep playing. You can see what those women were able to achieve, they started somewhere, and it was harder for them to get into it without the pathways the girls have now.

“I hope meeting those World Cup players gives our girls something to aspire to.”

Marg Jennings said it was fantastic meeting both the Bacchus Marsh Junior girls, and the Australian team who were at Junction Oval to play in an ODI.

“It’s been so nice to catch up and share so many memories with my old teammates. I hadn’t seen some of these women for 40 and, in some cases, even 50 years,” she said.

“Having the young players here was a really lovely touch. We had the 1973 team here, the current Australian team out on the field and the young girls – so we had the past, present and the future of the game all on one day.”

Bacchus Marsh Cricket Club were selected for the event due to being one of the clubs who received funding from CommBank and Cricket Australia’s ‘Growing Cricket for Girls Fund’, which supports leading clubs across the country to help grow their girls’ programs and support women as coaches and volunteers.