Let’s face it – you most probably didn’t even know we had a national women’s cricket team. Well, we do and you’ll hear more about it, thanks to their games finally being broadcast on SuperSport 7 since Monday September 1.
In case you didn’t know, female athletes don’t have it as good as their male counterparts. Some need to have day jobs to keep afloat. Recently, Momentum – the official sponsor for the women’s national side – and Cricket South Africa awarded contracts to eight more players, bringing the total to 14 contracted female cricketers.
We chatted to the Momentum Women’s Cricket team skipper, Mignon Du Preez to find out how she feels about finally being on TV and what it means to finally have a contract.
Sheilan Clarke for LiveSA: How does it feel to have your games finally being broadcast?
Mignon Du Preez: Finally we’re getting recognition for the women’s game and for us as a team – it brings great value to our sponsor. It will take a few televised games for us not to feel intimidated, especially our younger players in the side. This is the dawn of a new day in our game. A dream come true!
LiveSA: Any nerves or jitters before the game especially knowing that friends, family and fans are watching at home?
Mignon Du Preez: Obviously, we are all human. I think the greatest fear failing in front of those you care about.
LiveSA: Why do you think your games were not broadcast or even marketed on a wide scale before?
Mignon: Previously, the commercial value of women’s cricket was questioned. But after the ratings showed that almost a billion people watched the previous ICC Women’s T20 World Cup (or at least some part of it), the stakeholders realised we are an asset worth an investment for brand exposure which television brings to the plate. Our performance, moving up the ranks helped put us on the right track.
LiveSA: Female athletes don’t get the recognition they deserve. Do you think this is slowly changing or is there a long way to go?
Mignon: In general and compared against male athletes, it is true. However, it is changing as there is greater public appreciation for female achievements internationally. Hopefully it will improve with leaps and bounds going forward.
LiveSA: The whole squad with the exception of Sunette Loubser finally received contracts. How do you feel about it?
Mignon: The contracts brought the players to the realisation that the administrators believe in their ability and that they are assets worth the investment, commitment and support that comes with it. It does make one feel that all the “unseen” efforts from the players’ side, sacrifices, keeping in shape and hoping for more playing opportunities, have been acknowledged.
LiveSA: For those who don’t quite understand, what does getting contracted mean?
Mignon: A couple of things…You have a very good chance of being selected to play for SA if you are contracted. It confirms your status as as part of the national squad. In almost all cases, you are enabled to attend cricket-related activities, knowing that you will receive financial reward at the end of the month, depending on the type of contract you have with CSA. You also become part of a players’ association that “looks out” for your well-being. It also brings new responsibility onto your plate – adherence to the CSA code of conduct and the responsibility to behave like a role model. A contract is typically for a cycle of one year.
LiveSA: Do you have another job (besides playing cricket) or are you studying?
Mignon: I completed my honours degree in marketing about two years ago. However I opted to do cricket full time in order to achieve international recognition for my talent. I am hoping to be able to transform my national and international recognition into a brand (relating to me and sport) that could be used as part of a business venture in the near future. The intention is to build a business part time, as and when I get the opportunity.
LiveSA: How did you get into playing cricket for South Africa?
Mignon: Back in 2007 Shadré Fritz sustained a neck injury and opened the spot for a recognised batter in the series against Pakistan. I managed a debut 50 in that series and have been part of the team ever since.
LiveSA: Where do you hope the team to be in five years?
Mignon: At a position that reflects the combined aspirations of the team as a unit. Not a “maybe” contender for any World Cup, but a default contender for the number one spot in the world.
LiveSA: Any advice for young girls who dream of playing a sport for South Africa?
Mignon: If you can dream it, you can do it! Put your passion into your willingness to develop your own ability – with the right attitude, stumbling blocks become stepping stones towards your dream.
Twitter: Follow Mignon at @MdpMinx22
Follow me: @_sheilan_