9 Nov 2017

West Coast upbringing a 'clear advantage'

7:50 pm on 9 November 2017

By Lee Scanlon for The Westport News

Growing up in a small town has a "clear advantage", says New Zealand cricketer Erin Bermingham.

New Zeland crickters, Erin Bermingham and Katie Perkins  snapped during World Twenty20, March 11, 2016.

New Zealand cricketer Erin Bermingham. Photo: AFP / The Times of India/ B A Raju

Ms Bermingham, guest speaker at Buller High School senior awards evening this week, said she could never have envisaged her success when she left her hometown of Westport in 2005.

"I'm just a normal run-of-the-mill girl from a small town - how could I succeed?"

But she had dreams - one of which was to be a top cricketer. She debuted for the White Ferns in 2010. Playing many sports and giving everything a go was a "clear advantage" of living in a small town, she said. Growing up in Westport provided an "inclusiveness" rare elsewhere.

She played cricket with the boys and captained the Buller team at a South Island primary school tournament. The girl who had begun playing at Kilkenny Park and Carters Beach went on to bowl at Lord's. It was the highlight of her career, she said.

New Zealand won, she picked up four wickets and was player of the match. Bermingham said cricket had taken her all over the world, to places like Jamaica, Delhi and Sri Lanka. Players were often confined to their hotel because of security fears. Going shopping could mean an armed escort, armed guards searching the shop before the players went in, then closing the doors until they had finished shopping.

Bermingham said she had had those experiences only because she pursued her goals after high school. All her three older siblings had gone to university, but she had another dream - to be a police officer.

She graduated from police training school in 2015 and was posted back to Christchurch. She was now fortunate to live both her dreams - cricket and the police - at the same time.

"Don't get me wrong, it's been bloody tough but they balance each other out nicely and they give me perspective," she said. She recalled being bitterly disappointed playing for New Zealand overseas when the team were bundled out of a tournament. When she returned to Christchurch she was one of the first police officers at a homicide. A person died in front of them.

"Talk about perspective."

It was a reminder not to take her sport too seriously.

"What I'm most proud of is remembering where I came from and the journey I took to achieve my goals and the resilience that was required for that.

Bermingham finished her speech with advice for students.

"Don't let anyone, including yourself, say you can't do something ... Go on, take that first step. Don't worry about what other people might think, just be yourself."

This article first appeared in The News.

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