Chile a country renowned for its beautiful landscapes, it’s arts and poets and of course a football-mad nation with teams like Colo Colo having an almost cult-like following. Unknown to many is that the Genltman’s game cricket was established in the country nearly a 100 years ago, though after the second world war interest in the game had waned and football took centre stage, up until the mid-2000s when a revival started to take place and cricket gained a little popularity, amongst the veterans of that revival was Chile ‘s trailblazing multi-talented women’s team skipper Jeannette Garcés, Today I have the immense pleasure of welcoming her on this platform and have a chat with her about cricket in Chile.

Hi, Jeannette tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Jeannette Garcés, I’m 34 years old. I was born in Concepción, south of Chile but the most of my life I lived in Santiago, the capital. I’m Chile women’s cricket team captain since 2011, I’m a disciplined off-spinner and left-hand batsman and absolutely passionate about cricket!

How did you get into cricket?

I discovered cricket in 2006. I was looking for practising a sport in the University because I used to play tennis in competition so I wanted to keep playing it or trying a new one. At that time a friend told me there was a cricket exhibition game, I had never heard about it! So, I went to watch it and there were other cricketers watching and they invited me to try it… and I liked it! Few years later I was playing a competition of beach cricket and finally, in 2010, I was called to be part of the first women’s national cricket team and participate in the first cricket South-American championship. 

You are multitalented, I understand that you are an artist and a very good musician, tell us a little bit more about your other talents?

I love to try and do new things. I’m passionate for learning and knowledge… I think I have a little renaissance being living inside of me hahaha I started studying Physics at University, I didn’t finish it and I moved to Arts where I focused in sound and I started composing and recording my own songs. I play guitar, tin whistle and piano and I also have some sound arts works. I won the sound art category of a visual arts award for new talents of Santiago in 2014, something that makes me feel very proud!

Who is your inspiration?

There are so many people that inspire me in so many ways from different areas but if I have to pick one from women’s cricket I would choose Mignon Du Preez. I think she’s an incredible cricketer and a very human person. I admire a lot her kind of leadership when she was captain of South Africa.

What is your most memorable cricket moment?

My most memorable cricket moment was when we played for the first time in our history the south American championship final in Bogotá 2018. We played against Brazil. In that tournament, we played our maiden T20i too. It was also remarkable because we had to make a lot of efforts to make that trip happens. We didn’t have a coach, we practised in public parks, we sold lunches, caps, pins, t-shirts to get funds. So, finishing playing the final after all of that it was epic for me. One of the proudest day of my life as a Chilean, athlete and as a captain.

Jeannette Celebrates taking a wicket

Do you feel any pressure being the Chile captain?

I think is not pressure but maybe a little bit of responsibility. I’m completely aware that being the first Chilean captain is something will remain for the records but mainly I know what that means… it is to be a pioneer of a sport in a country non-traditional in cricket… so, everything is harder but all the hard work is crucial for keeping this sport and this team alive against all odds, not just for us but for the athletes who will come. I hope the girls and me can contribute to put Chile women on the map opening a road for the future.

Does cricket get covered in the media in Chile?

No, it’s not a sport that media are interested. Chile is a football country. The most of our population don’t know cricket or confuse it with croquet. Although these last two year we have had more space in media because our campaigns to raise funds to participate in the south American championship and to make cricket more known.

The Chile women’s team

Cricket has been around in Chile for nearly 100 years, when was the women’s team formed?

Yes, Cricket has shown in early records of Chilean history, but after that, there’s a lot of years that the sport disappeared completely. Our first national women’s team was formed in 2010 for the first women south American cricket championship played in Santiago, where Argentina and Brazil participated too. That team was composed for almost 70% of Chilean girls.

What sort of structure is in place to develop the game in Chile?

Cricket Chile Association is in charge for developing the sport in the country. A month ago it was elected a new board representing different regions of Chile: Santiago West, Santiago East, Chillán, Villarrica, Viña del Mar. I am very hopeful that this new board could make differences for future and guide Chile for next levels.

Are the Chilean players in the professional ranks?

As a team, we are ranked 48th. As an individual players, we are not in a professional status. We need more support, more investment and a good developing plan for achieve this in the future.

Where do you see the women’s game in the next five years?

I believe next years will be fantastic for women’s game! The last T20 women’s world cup final in Melbourne with 87,000 people in that beautiful stadium, breaking all records was something exciting. I watched it online and chatting with women cricketers from Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile… how great it was that!  I mean… 5 years ago I have never thought this could be something that could happen!  So, I really hope the future will be great for women’s game next years… the world is changing in many aspects for women. I really think that more women’s leagues around the world will appear, non-traditional cricket countries will show in cricket international scenario, more players from different countries playing in important leagues, more regional competitions, the Olympics…… I really want to believe!!!

If given the chance which player past or present would you love to play alongside with?

In women’s game… Marizanne Kapp and Katherine Brunt
In men’s game… Imran Tahir and Sachin Tendulkar.

How do you define success?

For me, success is to stay true to yourself in every decision you make.