Our U13 girls’ cricket team are the first to go on tour to South Africa from the UK. They set off last Thursday, with the boys’ U13 cricket team, heading to Johannesburg on this landmark trip.
Speaking before he left, Westbourne House School cricket coach and tour team leader, Kevin Smith, said: “What an experience awaits these children; two weeks in South Africa playing cricket and exploring the KwaZulu-Natal province will be unforgettable.
“This is our school’s eleventh tour, but the first time we have had the opportunity to take a girls’ team having introduced cricket as the main summer sport for our girls over the last two summers. I believe our U13 girls’ team is the first girls’ team to have this opportunity. They will be playing boys’ teams in South Africa as girls’ cricket is not as developed as it is here and girls who are keen do play with the boys. In terms of UK schools, we are indeed pioneers in this field and will be playing six games of cricket, two netball matches and a game of football.
“When playing cricket, the children will be hosted by their opponents, which is another high point of the tour as it gives them the valuable and special opportunity to make friends for life. I am so proud to be leading the team and playing our part in girls’ cricketing history. A huge thank you to our sponsors Southdowns Private GP Services, The Sir John Ritblat Foundation, Southcoast Group, Rountree Tryon Galleries and Hard Yards for their support,” Mr Smith added.
“This is a trip of a lifetime for our pupils and they are in no doubt how lucky they are to have this opportunity. We hope our South African tour will encourage more girls’ cricket teams to go to South Africa as well as help more school girls in South Africa to play cricket and form teams.”
Westbourne House School Headmaster, Martin Barker
Former Westbourne House School pupil and ex-England and Sussex cricket player, Holly Colvin, visited the touring teams at Westbourne House School before they left to give them bowling and batting tips ahead of the trip. Holly is still the youngest player to ever play Test cricket for England at the age of just 15.
Holly, 33, from Middleton-on-Sea, West Sussex said: "It was especially fantastic to see so many enthusiastic and talented girls playing cricket. Being back at Westbourne House brought back so many happy memories of my first experience with the sport and it was great to see that girls now have a team of their own. I want to wish all the pupils heading out to South Africa the best of luck and hope they really enjoy the experience against teams from a fiercely competitive cricketing nation."
Holly was the Sport Competition Manager for Cricket at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and is a champion for female players. She says: "At Westbourne House School, I didn't even realise that being an international cricketer was an option. I played in the boys' cricket team officially from Year 6 and the experience has no doubt made me the person I am today - I continue to seek roles which pave the way to provide more opportunities for girls to play sport.
"I am so delighted that these girls are heading to South Africa to play cricket. I only watched my first women's international game in 2004 at Hove – the year before I made my international debut. The more girls that play cricket at school and travel, the more momentum will build behind the opportunities for girls to play cricket across the world."
Holly Colvin, youngest ever England Test cricket player
Craig Goodenough, Bundu Bashers Travel company director, said: "This is our first ever school girls' cricket tour. It will be a unique experience for us all and a tour that I think everyone will remember forever."