Social media often gets a bad rep. We hear about trolling, abuse and athletes missing the mark with well-intended humour. But for Brazil captain Roberta Moretti Avery social media has unlocked many opportunities to tell the story of cricket in the nation to a global audience.
She admits the rising presence of Brazil without a ball being played has been an unexpected and overwhelmingly positive outcome in a year of lockdowns and widespread uncertainty.
2020 was meant to be an exciting first year of professionalism for the Brazil women’s side. A year where Cricket Brazil made history providing central contracts to their women’s team before their men’s team simply because they are the ones with the greatest chance of qualifying for the World Cup. A refreshing statement that challenged the male norm of sport that often sways the decision making at the top.
‘It’s an amazing feeling, on one side I’m extremely happy of being part of the cricket Brazil national team and of being the captain because I’m a cricket lover I absolutely love this sport and I would talk about it all day if I could. I watch every game that is available on TV and will play whenever I want. Even in quarantine I’ve been able to focus on something I love. Even training at home I still have that feeling of something being done every single day.
‘I am so proud to be part of the development of cricket in Brazil. From helping to organise the projects to a pathway grown from grassroots to high performance, the University programme that helps Brazilians go into University to become cricket coaches which is an unbelievably beautiful programme and to see everything that has been done to collect funds and make cricket sustainable here so all of that development that we have been working on for the past ten years is something that we feel very proud of.
‘So, to be the spokesperson of that into the world through social media to podcasts makes me feel very proud because this is not only a sport that I play but it’s literally a way that I live and the development that has been done in Brazil is important not because you’re going to get a great women thing out of it but it’s important because we want to take cricket to more Brazilians so that is something that I couldn’t be any prouder of.’
The new professional outfit had a taste of the new professional training regime before lockdowns came into play. Not only did the side have to learn how to be professional cricketers adapting to a new lifestyle, but how to maintain their new professional standards without being able to venture outside, access facilities and connect with one another in the ways that they were used to.
‘All that hectic life changed from high intensity to zero in a question of days. So, I didn’t want to stop everything I was doing and decided that I had to find a way to keep doing home trainings. And that is when we got creative and after a few weeks we set up a routine at home, with the help of my husband Richard and the team.’
Adapting to the ‘new normal’ Roberta admits the hype of social media came as an unexpected outcome off the back of recording her new bowling action with her phone for performance analysis purposes while inside her house.
‘The first month of quarantine last year was very difficult for all the normal reasons everyone faced, but for me was also difficult because I had decided to start bowling spin instead of pace and I didn’t want to waste any time waiting. My first at home drills were based on that and the results were dreadful. I was breaking lamps, hitting vases, hurting dogs and because I always record my progress, I had loads of terrible footage.
‘I’ve always been an Instagram kind of person, I used to post it there a lot, but I thought that I didn’t want to bother my non cricketer followers with too much information and I found this niche of crazy cricket people on Twitter that I could talk about cricket and be normal.
‘I kept showing a little of my training routine and got incentives from other people in all parts of the world, tips in training, help with the mental struggles from quarantine, sharing ideas and the best part was to show that we have cricket in Brazil, that we are very passionate about it and getting meet so many nice people.’
Roberta’s viral antics has connected the story of cricket in Brazil to the masses, but she’s also been connecting with other players from Associate member nations to produce humorous, light-hearted on ‘trend’ content that shows off their personalities.
‘I never thought it was going to be like this. I always posted to make people laugh and also to have a laugh meeting other people that were doing the challenges and having good days and sometimes even the bad days.
‘Twitter helped with the mental battles, a lot of people seeing that other people are going through the struggles at the same time as you were helps. But when people started saying oh you know what we have cricket in Brazil let’s talk a little bit about us and we had podcasts and also articles coming asking us about our cricket. I saw that was the opportunity of talking a little bit more about what is happening in Brazil.’
Designing the “Brazilian Shot”, Roberta is passionate about creating a fun and positive brand of cricket in Brazil that embodies local culture to the local game.
And in recent weeks, Roberta has spoken on podcasts including Women’s Cricket Chat and The Tailenders and has featured across multiple news sites including a feature in The Telegraph in England.
‘I think it’s so cool that social media helps with raising our profile with pretty much no investment or nothing. I do everything in my house with my phone that never breaks although it gets hit every single day so it’s like it’s a very effective way of talking to people about cricket in Brazil and about how much love we have for cricket although we are not a cricket traditional country.’
The reaction Roberta and her team have received after a year of viral videos, has attracted attention not only from fans and media but from fellow professionals within the global game.
‘It is a little bit unreal for me. I got a message from Alyssa Healy about 40 days after she won the World Cup commenting on my batting stance and the steps that I was taking into batting and how I could improve it and I was simply thinking ‘what’. You know, a World Cup winner has just DM’ed me about my batting fundamentals and how can I improve it and the power of social media is unbelievably crazy.
‘You see English players talking to us and liking us. Isa Guha tweeting messages about Cricket Brazil, you keep thinking like how important it is to have that voice and to show what is happening with cricket around the world and also I think my main message is to inspire girls on allowing themselves to play sports and to empower them and chase their dreams. I think that message is something that I really love to have.’
However, while the fun content posted on social media may be fairly frivolous, there is nothing trivial about Brazil and their sincere bid to qualify for the 2023 T20 World Cup in South Africa. They will have to let their performances do the talking as they go into the first round of qualification in September this year.
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