9 February 2022

The South Coast Sapphires women’s cricket team to represent Australia in Dubai

| Tim Gavel
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Shaun Martyn, Jade Allen, and Geoff Lawson

FairBreak founder Shaun Martyn, South Coast Sapphires player Jade Allen, and FairBreak coach Geoff Lawson. Photo: FairBreak.

Established 13 years ago by Narooma’s Shaun Martyn, FairBreak promotes fair and equal access to opportunities for all people. The vehicle it uses to progress gender equality and equity is cricket.

Why cricket? Because of the very nature of the sport. It is played in over 100 countries, it is not gender-specific, nor is it connected to any specific culture, ethnicity or religion. Anyone can play. Cricket also relies upon partnerships, and partnerships are central to FairBreak’s success of building a network of people and organisations with the same goal of achieving gender equality across the globe.

FairBreak’s first invitational women’s T20 tournament will take place from 1 to 15 May in Dubai, featuring 90 players from 36 countries.

Shaun Martyn says the impact of involvement in the tournament on the players’ lives cannot be underestimated.

“For the first time, 50 associate players will be paid for playing cricket and a chance to showcase their talents. For many, it will be a life-changing experience.”

In deciding on the Australian team composition for the tournament, Shaun felt it fitting to concentrate on drawing from the NSW south coast, given the impact the 2020 bushfires continue to have on the community.

Living in Narooma, he says he is well aware of the need for a stimulus to lift the community, and as such, the South Coast Sapphires became a reality.

But not all the South Coast Sapphires players are from the NSW south coast. An important part of the FairBreak philosophy is to encourage diversity within teams, so experienced players can mentor less experienced players.

Eleven of the 15 cricketers in the side have been selected, with players coming from 11 countries, including 19-year-old leg spinner Jade Allen.

Jade, who hails from Cobargo, a community still coming to terms with the aftermath of the bushfires, says the tournament will be her first international experience.

“Being a part of the FairBreak Invitational will provide a tremendous opportunity to not only play overseas and with a great variety of skilled players, but will allow me to expand my game. I’m really looking forward to the experience that it will bring,” Jade says.

Jade’s reference to playing with skilled players has a firm basis with the south coast team featuring several world-class cricketers.

The team includes Ireland’s Gaby Lewis who was named in the ICC Women’s T20 Team of the Year, fellow Irish player Kim Garth, and Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu.

Former Pakistan captain Sana Mir is also a valuable member of the Sapphires. Sana visited Narooma after the bushfires to present a gift of one of her Pakistan playing tops to the rural fire brigade. She has built an affinity with the area and is the ideal person to captain the Sapphires.

Two women with a cricket jersery

South Coast Sapphires captain and former Pakistan captain Sana Mir presents her playing top to Sophie Taylor of the Narooma Rural Fire Service. Photo: FairBreak.

Without a doubt, the experience of the FairBreak T20 Invitational Tournament will leave an indelible impression on young cricketers, such as Jade.

Through this opportunity, many young women will broaden their perspectives and build their partnerships and networks with others from throughout the world.

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