Historically, Essequibo has been categorized as the least dominant team in cricket compared to its counterparts Demerara and Berbice.
However, this county’s cricket has grown leaps and bounds and this latest reflection is as a result of the dedication of 15 ‘Cinderellas’ from the beautiful land.
Stabroek Sport sat down with the players who are currently playing for Essequibo in the Guyana Cricket Board’s Under 17 Women’s Franchise, the first ever local women’s franchise tournament.
They shared their stories of the journey to this destination.
Outspoken, polite and kind, the Essequibo captain is Navika Narine, a 15-year-old Science Student at the Anna Regina Multilateral Secondary School.
The young, enthusiastic captain, like many of her teammates, began playing cricket among the males, her father mostly, who assisted her in batting and leg-spin bowling, for which she has been branded as being a `natural’.
The aspiring architect, pointed out that cricket was only played during Physical Education and mostly with the boys. The teachers would always pick the boys since in their view, they believed that boys can play better.
Her sentiments were shared with almost all of the 15 members of the team, only three of whom had ever played hardball cricket before.
Lisa Charles, cousin of Guyana National Youth player, Sheldon Charles, is the most experienced player and, at age 16, she has already represented Essequibo at the senior level back in 2016.
Meanwhile, Marika McPherson, who is just 13-years-old, from the Parika/Salem Secondary School, plays with Greenwich Park.
Like many of the others, cricket is about passion and dedication as was evident from the animated expressions meaning from the young women.
They highlighted the various reasons why they wanted to play cricket including a desire to be famous, to influence people, to travel the world, to represent their country and to break the stereotypes.
The girls explained that they saw sports as a way of relaxation from the stresses of everyday life recalling instances where they were mostly pushed towards excelling in academics with the choice often being one or the other.
Not surprisingly, a lot of them had to beg their parents for the opportunity to come out and play, promising in return, to make them proud.
One such player is 15-year-old Lalitha Patterson who hails from Karia in the Essequibo River. Patterson explained that it was her cousin, Quintin Sampson, who is also an Essequibo Franchise player, who motivated her and helped her to persuade her family to let her come out and make the county proud.
A lot of the girls were influenced into loving the sport by their fathers and siblings as is the case with Shezel Joseph, who began playing in her yard at eight-years-old with her three brothers, two sisters and father.
Maria Anthony on the other hand recalled the family visits to the beach after she moved to Essequibo from Linden.
Roxanne Hendricks and Nelly Thomas both played with their family members but found it hard with some of them moving.
Parvina Bharat also began playing at a young age but said she grew away from the game with family members relocating but has since fallen back in love with the game and is here to make it count.
But while most of them benefited from regular cricket, Petra Hoppie was fortunate to pick up cricket when playing with her Stepfather during the August vacation when she travelled to spend time with her mother.
Onica Stoby, a natural athlete, while not playing hardball cricket, loved the sport since her Nursery School days and recalls her time playing with her two sisters while Divina Ross was drawn to the sport from participation in the Kiddies Cricket.
Chelsea Belfield is a third generation player with her father representing Essequibo at senior level and her grandmother as well as her mother playing the sport.
For Lavina Raghubeer, living next to the Parika Salem Ground contributed to her development and love for the game after watching matches and just deciding this was for her.
The girls were excited to hear the International Cricket Council Women’s World T20 was being played in Guyana.
They were presented with the opportunity to go see some of their role models despite the fact that Chris Gayle was hands down their favourite player.
But cricket is not their own desires, with some wanting to be lawyers, doctors, veterinarians, pilots, teachers, nurses and more.
The young prospects said they found it hard to come to play the tournament, noting that they will have to work even harder when the go back to school because for some of them, they will be writing CXC and will need to submit SBAs.
Finding a balance was the key for some of them who shared their past of being emotionally abused to the point of having suicidal thoughts but overcame those with the help of loved ones and participating in sports as a form of relaxation. It also helped them avoid dwelling on negative thoughts, especially in a country that has a high suicide rate.
The innovative bunch pitched ideas to help other females to come forward and get involved in sports as a means of living a rewarding life, particularly cricket.
It was disclosed that there are hardly any cricket for the girls in Essequibo with most of them only playing hardball now. Nevertheless, the girls suggested that there must be the establishment of clubs, school teams and tournaments, hosting of sessions, community teams, trials, fun days, motivational visits by past players and tours to other countries.
They even threw ideas on how they could get money to fund their own sports with the hosting of various activities to purchase gears and other necessities.
The future of Essequibo’s female cricket formulated a bond that has become rock solid as they encouraged all young ladies to speak out, be bold and do what they love in order to achieve what they want.