Western Zone coach Alana Ryan was absolutely stoked her side claimed last week’s Western NSW Under-15 Girls’ Carnival title, their maiden win, but amid the excitement she made one crucial point regarding the tournament as a whole.
Although it only runs for four days a year, the Cowra-based ACT/NSW representative said it’s worth far more than that from a developmental point of view.
The girls’ carnival was established in 2017 and it’s come along in leaps and bounds since then, this year’s third edition boasted six teams and last year welcomed a side all the way from Brisbane.
Ryan said she’s hoping to see the carnival continue to grow, explaining it’s not just on-field where the burgeoning stars see the benefits.
“These players, and us as coaches, get so much more out of this carnival than just the four days it runs for,” she said.
“It’s so important for women’s cricket and especially for these younger girls, but not just with the cricket side of things either.
“They get to a learn a lot about themselves off the field too, they get to meet other players from the city, the country – everywhere, really – and they make a lot of new friends doing that which is great.”
It’s so important for women’s cricket and especially for these younger girls.Alana on the ODJCA's girls' carnival
That camaraderie was there for all to see following the decider at Kinross Main Oval, after having their respective team talks the Western and Gordon Red players came together for the presentation.
Ryan went on to explain a number of the benefits the players get from the on-field side of things too, in particular her Western troops, who don’t often get the chance to play together considering how far-reaching the region is.
“Little things, like being able to consistently play on turf is a big thing,” she said.
“The facilities here in Orange are just incredible and I know the [Orange District Junior Cricket Association] and [Orange City Council’s curators] put in a lot of hard work to make them so good, so a big thank you to them because that does make a big difference (in terms of development).
“For our Western girls, they don’t get to come together very often so a competition like this does that, it brings them together and allows them to play good quality cricket against sides from places like Sydney and see what the standard is like in other areas.
“It helps build partnerships in a way too, we’ve got a great little partnership with Penrith, players playing grade cricket with them.”
In her speech post grand final, ODJCA registrar Jo Hunter – a former Australian player – couldn’t hide her excitement either, after watching another thrilling carnival.
“You just need to look at how many people [were at Kinross Main Oval for the decider] to see how well the carnival’s doing,” she said, before presenting Western’s winners’ medals.
“It’s great to see two Gordon sides making the trip too.
“It’s so great to see so many young women enjoying the game.”
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