Innovative options key to future

Otago Cricket Association development officer Jess Davidson is looking forward to taking up the...
Otago Cricket Association development officer Jess Davidson is looking forward to taking up the role fulltime from next week. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Jess Davidson has turned her passion into a fulltime job.

The 20-year-old has been working part-time at the Otago Cricket Association as a development office since September while she managed her studies at the University of Otago.

The Otago under-21 representative finished her last exam yesterday and will graduate with a bachelor of science degree in sports management.

She has the long weekend ahead to celebrate and then it is down to her new challenge - helping convince the next generation of cricketers it is not a long and boring sport.

The game has been in recession at the grassroots but Davidson is bright-eyed about its future.

She helped establish the Girls Smash programme last year, while working at the association as an intern, and believes the female game is starting to gather momentum.

But her focus is on both the female and male games.

Now she is fulltime she will be able to direct all her abundant energy into coming up with solutions to lure the young away from their phones and console games.

"One of the challenges we are facing is we need to diversify. We need to offer new and innovative options and capture new audiences," she said.

"But also we have to make sure the traditionalists are still being served and there are still things that will keep them interested."

The bulk of her work will be going to the region's schools to introduce the game to children and running the various tournaments on offer.

The Girls Smash gets under way again next month and there are holiday programmes and festival days to organise and run.

"We're doing everything we can to engage people."

Davidson grew up in a cricket-mad household in Christchurch.

"My dad was the junior club convener at New Brighton Cricket and I have four older brothers, so I guess I was just born into it.

"I did a lot of fielding - no batting [in those backyard games]."

Davidson has played for the Otago under-21 team for the past two years and bats in the top order.

She loves her cricket but has been juggling a lot this year with her studies and work.

"I'm mostly looking forward to sinking into my new job, so cricket is taking a bit of a back seat at the moment," she said.

The right-hander was one of the better performed batsmen last season.

Her dream growing up was to play provincial cricket. But goals change and Davidson is hoping she can contribute to the momentum being developed in the female game.

"I think this is an exciting time to be involved in the women's game. There is a lot of good stuff happening.

"We are going to be advertising very soon for a women's development officer in Otago for six months. I'm looking forward to working with them and helping grow and encourage the female game."

For the elite female cricketers, such as the Suzie Bateses of this world, there is a good living to be made from the sport.

But there is still no proper senior women's club cricket competition in Dunedin. There is a Friday night women's league at Opoho involving two teams.

"That is for anyone who is interested in cricket. We hoping to affiliate them with a club and really have a solid women's league."

Add a Comment