- CRICKET I BLONG EVRIWAN -
Imaki Sunrise (Blue) vs Ifira (Green & Gold) Grand Final Match
On Tuesday October 5th, 175 women from Port Vila and Tanna participated in the launch of the Women’s Island Cricket Program (WICP) on Tanna followed by a full week of competition and social impact activities to promote WICP and Cricket I Blong Evriwan. The competition was called the ‘Tafea Yumi 40 – Cricket I Blong Evriwan Championship’ and featured four teams from Tanna, and four teams from Port Vila.
A group of 100 women in the Women’s Island Cricket program travelled to Tanna with eight Vanuatu Cricket staff and 75 women from Tanna joined the teams from Port Vila to launch the program and participate in the competition.
Throughout the week, colorful island dresses swayed in the wind to the sound of stringband, cows mooing around the field, three men holding hands and cheering gleefully when the ball is hit, a group of elderly men asking to play women’s island cricket and 175 women whose ages ranged from 17 to 65+ socialized, competed, learned about VCA’s CRICKET I BLONG EVRIWAN PROGRAM and its key messages, and learned from each other.
In addition to being super stars on the field, the women supported Vanuatu Cricket with promoting gender equality in sport, the inclusion of women in social and physical activities, combatting NCDs and Gender Based Violence through cricket and Empowering women to take up space in communities and be active leaders in every aspect of their lives.
Leonie Kaltapang, a participant from Imaki Village and the captain of the Imaki team expressed her team’s gratitude for the introduction of WICP on Tanna stating that they were overjoyed about being included.
“I would like to thank Vanuatu Cricket for bringing women’s island cricket to Tafea. To be honest, when we heard that cricket is going to come back to Tanna for us mothers, we felt as if something that was missing from our lives was finally making its way back to us. We were overjoyed and this resulted in daily cricket trainings to prepare us for the Tafea Yumi 40 – Cricket I Blong Evriwan Championship.
“Women’s Island Cricket has given us the push that we needed to start considering our physical health and fitness again because we are not as young anymore and while we are active every day, cricket offers a fun way for us to remain physically fit while maintaining a healthy social life as well,” she said.
Melissa Fare, VCA’s Marketing Manager, was the project manager for the launch, expressed her surprise and gratitude for the welcome and support the Vanuatu Cricket received on Tanna.
“Arriving on Tanna, I did not know what to expect because I had never been on Tanna before. I was quite nervous because I knew that we have very strong messaging to deliver and I was not sure how these messages would be received especially around gender equality and gender based violence.
“The people were so open to our key messages especially around combatting NCD’s and promoting gender equality in sport. We were there during the week of celebration for the Tafea Province’s 40th anniversary and some of our key messaging were adopted and promoted during the week of the celebration and the women received so much support during the competition from the communities.
“The program gained so much traction and following that I had a group of about seven elderly men approach me and asked if they can also play cricket, ‘the kind the mamas were playing because it has meaning’ they said. In that moment I felt so much joy and pride at the work that we are doing to not just bring awareness to the game but also bring awareness to and promote important social messages especially around gender equality in our communities,” Fare said.
Vanuatu Cricket’s CEO, Tim Cutler, spoke on behalf of the VCA and expressed that the launch is significant to the growth of cricket and credited the people of Tanna for their interest in the game.
“The Tanna trip is significant for cricket on a number of fronts. Firstly, this event happened as a result of the drive of the people of Tanna, who want cricket to grow there – this was their idea – and this is significant for the VCA as we have been working hard for a long time to grow awareness of the sport.
“Whether it’s the tireless work of our development officers, who sometimes trek hours by foot just so isolated schools and communities are able to experience cricket, or the tenacity of everyone involved in Women’s Island Cricket for the last ten years, it was very pleasing to be able to put on an event befitting the potential for the sport.
"More importantly though, I believe, is how cricket is ultimately a tool for social change here in Vanuatu – so, as the game grows on Tanna and beyond, so will the positive impact on the community through the important messages from ‘Cricket I Blong Evriwan’,” Cutler said.
Cutler also provided assurance that cricket will continue to grow on Tanna and women’s island cricket is included in the VCA’s development plans for Tanna.
“The future on Tanna is bright. There is the opportunity for us to develop another ground to play on, beyond the current facility above Lenakel stadium.
“Also, with the excellent work being done by our development officer Daniel Naies we hope to further support the growth of the game there with additional resources in 2022 and establish regular Women’s Island Cricket events across the island,” he concluded.
The Tafea Yumi 40 – Cricket I Blong Evriwan Championship was competitive as the teams from Tanna challenged the veteran teams from Port Vila. The teams from Port Vila were Ifira, Eratap, Imaki Port Vila and Vila North, and the teams from Tanna were Lenakel, Port Resolution, Lowanatom and Imaki Sunrise.
The competition was played in a knockout format and resulted in a grand final between Ifira and Lowanatom. The grand final match up was the highlight of the tournament as Lowanatom challenged Port Vila’s WIC defending champion, Ifira, and put them under pressure.
SIXES and FOURS were hit with immense power around the field and Lowanatom looked comfortable in their game and never backed down from Ifira’s powerful game plan. Ifira were not shy and were there to prove why they are the reigning champions in Port Vila for several years.
Ifira managed to scathe through the challenging final and claim the inaugural Cricket I Blong Everiwan Championship title. However, Lowanatom were not disappointed because their players picked up all the individual awards namely, Player of the Final, Player of the Tournament and Best Batter award for their outstanding performances throughout the entire competition.
In the third place play off, Imaki Port Vila defeated their sister team Imaki sunrise.
Imaki Sunrise Captain, Leonie Kaltapang, concluded the competition with an encouragement for women in Tanna and around Vanuatu to, “consider women’s island cricket as an option to look after not just your physical health but overall health and to promote gender equality in our communities because it is important” and this is what Vanuatu Cricket is all about – making sure ‘CRICKET I BLONG EVERIWAN – Cricket is for everyone’ and ensuring that the game is used as a tool for creating positive change.
At the end of it all, one thing was clear, Women’s Cricket is the Winner!