Apprenticeship presents new path for Aley
Sarah Aley will be no stranger to cricket following her retirement, as she turns her attention to coaching
24 January 2021, 07:20 PM AEST
Despite packing away her kit bag for the final time at the end of the Rebel WBBL season last November, Sarah Aley will be no stranger to the game.
The former Sixers and NSW pace bowler has turned her attention to coaching, as she seeks a way to give back to the game and help nurture the next generation of players from her home state.
Aley is one of three players selected for Cricket NSW’s first elite coaching apprenticeship program specifically designed for women, alongside current Breakers allrounder Lisa Griffith and former Breakers squad member Hannah Trethewy.
The program aims to ensure the development of female coaches keeps pace with the game, which has been going from strength to strengths thanks to the success of the Australian women’s team and the Rebel WBBL.
Aley has long had an interest in coaching and has held various roles mentoring players coming through the NSW pathway while playing elite cricket; she now hopes the apprenticeship will be the launching pad to a new post-playing career.
"It’s going to involve a few different things on the tools and also learning a bit about myself as a coach and as a leader and trying to upskill," Aley told cricket.com.au.
"It’s not about being pigeonholed with just female coaching (either), there’s going to be some male pathways and NSW Blues experience in there as well, to get a different perspective, as well as the opportunity to look at other sports and other coaches to see how they go about things.
"It’s been something that’s always been in the background at certain stages throughout my career … I’ve taken on a mentor role as I got older within teams and squads, and it feels like a natural fit and something people have felt I had a talent for, so they kept giving me jobs within the pathways systems at NSW.
"Now I’ve finished playing, it’s a way I feel I can give back to the game I’ve been involved with for more than half my life, and as a player who played in both the non-professional era as well as the more professional era, I feel I’ve got perspectives with both sides of things."
After playing alongside the likes of Sixers and NSW young guns Stella Campbell and Hayley Silver-Holmes during her final WBBL season, Aley hopes she can continue to play a role in their development.
"They’re really exciting ... (Stella) is someone who women’s hasn’t seen before, she’s really tall and gets a lot of bounce and is really quick," she said.
"I’ve had some really good opportunities and some fantastic experiences with the Sixers, we didn’t finish the season the way we would have liked to but we managed to have a bit of fun and hopefully start something we can build on in the future.
"And if there’s a chance I can be involved in that from a coaching perspective … they can’t get rid of me that easily."
Currently, there are three women who hold head coach roles with state or Big Bash teams; Shelley Nitschke (Scorchers, also Australia assistant coach), Becky Grundy (WA) and Salliann Briggs (Tasmania and Hurricanes) – and both CA and Cricket New South Wales want the number of elite female coaches to continue to grow.
The coaching apprenticeships follows Cricket NSW’s introduction of a head of female cricket last year, becoming the first state to do so when former Australia and Breakers batter Leah Poulton took on the role.
"There have never been more opportunities for women and girls to play cricket,” Poulton said.
"More than 30 percent of players at all levels and ages participating in cricket are now female.
"It’s important we create opportunities for women to contribute to our sport in a range of roles.
"The development of more female coaches, umpires and administrators is an important next step and can only enrich our great game
"I’m thrilled to have Hannah, Sarah and Lisa as part of our coaching team. All three are wonderful role models. Their energy and knowledge will be a great asset to our programs."