UC researcher and NZ cricketer investigating how female athletes cope overseas

Saturday 22 June 2013, 2:35PM
By University of Canterbury

A University of Canterbury (UC) researcher is investigating how New Zealand and Australian female sports people cope when they move overseas to compete.

UC PhD anthropology student Liz Perry, who has played cricket and hockey for New Zealand, says women's cricket is starting to gain momentum and she wants to explore the impacts on women cricketers when they play overseas.

``Sport is a dominant feature of the modern world and it contributes to the social and cultural landscape of the world we live in. 

``Research about women in sport has been criticised for developing reasonably slowly and has somewhat faded into the ever growing shadow of research on male sport.

``Sport can highlight the struggle for equality between the sexes that has been a dominant feature of the social world for centuries. It has the ability to reflect society, which is why this study is an important contribution. It not only encapsulates sporting migration, identity and globalisation but it also emphasises the struggle within sport for female athletes.

``I am examining the experiences of female sporting migrants from New Zealand and Australia who have played cricket in England and how they adapt to sport and life away from home. I am researching how they adjust to an English social and cultural environment and the differences, challenges, and similarities they may face. 

``I look at the travelling athlete in an often harsh and financially poor female sporting world. I hope to shed new light on an area which has seemingly been untouched by academics previously.

``Money does not dictate player movement within women's cricket like it does within the men's game and therefore the networks that are created are smaller and cultural exposure is minimised

``Modern sport is representative of the power that money, professionalism, corporate giants, sponsorship deals and the media has within the sporting field. I want to dive deeper into sport to uncover the experiences of elite female athletes who are at the bottom of the sporting ladder.''

Perry's research explores questions relating to identity, multiple identities, attachment to home and host environments and nationalism in the modern world.

Her study represents an effort to understand why female migrant athletes move to England to play cricket and to help fill a gap in current sport labour migration research between male and female athletes. In Australia, cricket is the number one chosen sport for girls.

Perry, from Masterton, played cricket in England for Yorkshire while pursuing her research.