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Hansen relishing the challenge

Melissa Hansen batting for the Korus against Hawke’s Bay at Queen Elizabeth Park in 2016. PHOTO/FILE

CRICKET
Melissa Hansen likes to take the opportunities cricket brings and relishes the challenges.

The right-arm medium fast bowler plays indoor cricket for the New Zealand women’s team, outdoor cricket for the Central Districts Hinds, and took the field for the Wairarapa Korus on Sunday for a key match in the Shrimpton Trophy competition against Hawke’s Bay in Masterton.

Her love for the game took her to competitions in Dubai [2017] and Australia [2016] before she got a job as Cricket Wairarapa’s female development officer just two days after she arrived back in the country last year from England.

The former Wairarapa College student who studied sports management and coaching at Massey University took up her CW role in November.

Hansen, 22, said she did “a bit of everything,” in her role.

“School sessions, school visits, I help out with coaching. I manage Under-15 and Under-18 teams, and I’m organising this week’s Lower North Island Under-13 tournament in Masterton.

Melissa at work in her office for Cricket Wairarapa in Masterton.

“It’s awesome, to come out of university and straight away get a job in something I did my degree in and something I’m interested in and I’m passionate about, not many people have that.”

Hansen is looking at new ways of strengthening the women’s game and helping younger players.

“The girls in their last year of school this year were year nines when I was in year 13, so it’s been quite rewarding to see their development and to help out with it.”

CW was looking to give the girls opportunities improve their games and play at higher levels.

Until she hit high school, Hansen spent many of her early cricket years playing for boys’ teams.

“It was always quite fun — they’d be like Mel can open the batting and Mel can keep wicket — because they were too scared to do it, so I’d always be like, ‘Yup, okay then’.

“I think it helped with my development. The boys tend to bowl a bit faster and stuff, so it was more challenging.”

Hansen played for the girl’s First XI at Waicol and commuted to Johnsonville with her dad to play women’s club cricket.

At university, Hansen played for Manawatu, until she found out Wairarapa was forming a women’s team.

“It was a hard decision for me because I was still living in Palmerston North and would have a commute each weekend.

“I ended up making my decision [to go with the Korus] at midnight when I was coming over on a plane after indoor cricket in Australia.”

She said the Korus had grown a lot in the three years since they’d been formed.

“The team were mostly young girls, but now they’ve got more confidence, have matured in the team and in their cricket as well.

“We’re still quite young, and we’re growing all the time.”

Hansen has seen international experience through indoor cricket.

She played for New Zealand in the 2017 Indoor Cricket World Cup held in Dubai.

Three years earlier, she was a member of the national Under-20 indoor team who contested the World Cup at home.

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