Getting to Know Maia Bouchier ahead of The Hundred
In anticipation of The Hundred starting today, and the Southern Brave Teams beginning their campaign at the weekend, we caught up with Maia Bouchier, an Oxford Brookes University graduate who is looking to make an impact on the cricket pitch this summer.
Maia, 22, born and raised in London, was an active member of the Brookes Women’s Football Club and played professional cricket alongside her studies. Read on to find out more about her experiences with cricket, why she came to Oxford Brookes, her sporting achievements and the obstacles she has faced as a female athlete.
When did you first start playing cricket and how did you get started?
I first started playing cricket at around 4/5 years old, with my brothers in the back garden. Once my Dad saw how much we loved playing, he started a cricket club called Primrose Hill CC, which I pleaded him to let me play for - it was just boys back then! I played boys club cricket up until the age of 13/14, and girls’ county cricket for Middlesex from the age of 12.
When did you realise playing cricket professionally was realistic?
I think I only realised that playing cricket professionally was realistic at the age of 15, as I had been selected for the England U15’s at that time, and this was the pathway that would lead me eventually to a full-time professional career. I had been watching the women play for a couple of years and always wondered if I could make it to the highest level, but it was only really at the age of 17 to 18 I knew I had a chance. This was because I was playing a high level of cricket at school, county and national level (England Development Squad) and if I kept going at the rate I was, I would definitely have the opportunity.
What other sports do you/have you played?
I have played so many sports throughout the years. From a young age I played lots of football, which is my second favourite sport, but then at secondary school, I played hockey, netball, tennis and even a bit of badminton! I was very lucky to choose the best degree at university, as I was able to try out new sports and even go back to others I had not played for a very long time, like dodgeball!
Maia as part of the Oxford Brookes Women’s Football Team
Why did you choose to come to Oxford Brookes University?
I chose to come to Brookes for many reasons. Firstly, because of the city of Oxford. I studied at a secondary school called The Dragon, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it meant I was able to explore more of one of my favourite cities in the U.K.. Secondly, the sports at the university are very competitive, which is me in a nutshell! In the end, I was very lucky to have seen the university campus. It was very last minute as I had missed all the open days because of cricket, however, my Dad used his connections to find someone to give me a tour - the girl ended up being one of my close friends during my three years! I realized quickly as I was led around the incredible sports facilities at Brookes that I could see myself living there, making lots of friends and playing a ton of sport. It also helped that I had some connections from my old school, who were really helpful when deciding what course I could study - it clearly had to have lots of physical activity involved!
What sporting achievement are you most proud of?
I have so many sporting achievements to hand, however, my most proud would be winning the Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy for the Southern Vipers last year in September. It was just after the COVID-19 lockdown had been lifted and cricket was able to start again. Even though it was just for the month and a half, it was so good to be back playing after the long break, and I was able to do fairly well for my team.
Maia celebrating while playing for the Southern Vipers
What is The Hundred?
The Hundred is a professional franchise 100-ball cricket tournament, which involves 8 men's and women's teams that are located in major cities across England and Wales. It hopes to encourage families to not only come watch and support their local teams but spread awareness of the game to people everywhere around the world.
What are your sporting goals for this summer and the future?
My main goal for this summer is to perform consistently in the Hundred, showing that I am a key player in my team. I have only one future goal - to play for England!
Maia in action playing for the Southern Vipers
As a female athlete, what do you find are your biggest obstacles in the world of sport?
There are a few obstacles I face as a female athlete in the sporting world, and the main one is gender inequality. Unequal pay for women has always been a barrier in sport and no doubt will be for a number of years, however there are some actions that have brought this forward. Professional contracts in domestic women’s cricket were introduced last year, which has helped to boost the quality and support of women’s cricket. During the first lockdown however, it seemed the men were prioritised as they had more access to equipment and facilities, as well as being able to restart their season much earlier than the women. Not only this, but the quantity and quality of media coverage is still a problem. The issue of gender inequality in sport has been brought up a lot more because of the pandemic, which I see as an opportunity for sponsors to rethink their approach to women's sport so as to incite change.
What advice would you give to young girls looking to play cricket?
I want to encourage girls to go for it, to get involved with cricket, no matter what level. Pick up a bat, throw a ball, spend time with your family and friends and just have fun! This is the best time to get involved, especially with the Hundred starting up and the England women coming out on top in their multi-match series against India!
Best of luck to Maia during The Hundred this summer playing for Southern Brave! We’re so excited to watch her progress in her cricket career and hopefully fufill her goal of playing for England. You can follow along with Maia's cricket journey on her Instagram.