Hungarian's women's cricket festival makes it mark

Fri, Jun 26, 2009 1:22 PM

In a truly groundbreaking weekend, Hungarian women's cricket announced itself to the rest of Europe with the Anita Hungaria Women's Cricket Festival. Featuring two matches against the Thoiry Falcons from Paris, the Festival marked the start of what is hoped to be a long future of women's cricket in Hungary.

Saturday's match will go down in history as the first-ever all-women cricket match in Hungary. The Hungary girls team has been competing abroad since February 2008, but this was the first match in which the Hungary team was comprised of only officially eligible women players (born in 1992 or before). The 22 players taking part in the match on the specially prepared football pitch of Szent Istvan University in Gödöllo were aged from 16 to 53. The Hungary team was younger on average than the visitors, but most of the players were relatively new to the game and have only been playing for a matter of weeks or months.

Hungary won both matches over the weekend, but had to work hard for the victories. Some nice bowling was on display from both sides (Brigi Hotea and Mirtyll Hagymasi were the stars for Hungary, although the Thoiry captain was the most successful). All of the batswomen found it hard to score runs (points), with Fanni Cziraky of Hungary getting the top score of the weekend with 16.

At the award ceremony, medals were handed out to all the players, coaches and organisers by Andy Grieve (women's officer for the Hungarian Cricket Association) and Judit Kovács, representing Anita Hungaria. Hungary captain Balogh Claudia received a special prize for her leadership and enthusiasm in encouraging the new players. More important than the results and the medals, however, were the chance for all the players to play competitive cricket and to make new cricket friends. Plans are already being made for the Hungary team to travel to Paris in September.

The Thoiry group went sightseeing on Saturday morning in Budapest and some of the touring party couldn't resist experiencing Budapest's nightlife, even though they had important matches to play. The sun shone throughout the weekend and the players enjoyed training before each match. Dinner at Babat Valley (a hunting lodge just outside the town) on Saturday night for all the players and coaches saw some lively discussion of the day's play and some efforts to learn Hungarian to great amusement.

The weekend enjoyed some publicity on TV, thanks to the Eurosport2 commentators during the ICC World Twenty20 tournament - the first time cricket has ever been shown live on TV in Hungary. A film was made of the matches and that will shortly be edited and shown on cricket websites throughout Europe.

Thanks to new sponsors Anita Hungaria (distributors of sports, pregnancy and care lingerie and swimwear), the teams enjoyed the facilities of Szent Istvan University in Gödöllõ and of Babat Valley.

With the continued support of its sponsors, the HCA is determined to get more Hungarians learning, playing and enjoying cricket. Men, women, boys and girls are all being targeted to increase the numbers, and the Anita Hungaria Women's Cricket Festival is an important step in the right direction.

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