A tomboy as she calls herself to a self-made cricketer who is currently the captain of Hong Kong, Mariko Hill has come a long way. Hill has been a part of 11 T20Is with few runs to her name and 5 wickets. From having to juggle cricket with her studies to the responsibility of the national team, she has achieved quite a lot at the age of 23 years. Cricket might not be a popular sport in her country but she believes things will gradually change. Hill is also working in the nutraceutical industry and aspires to build a solid and experienced Hong Kong women’s cricket team.
Recently, Maithilee Shetty had a chat with Mariko Hill.
Here are some excerpts from the exclusive interview:
When did you start playing cricket and what drew your attention towards the sport?
I started playing at the age of 11 along with my brother at The Hong Kong Cricket Club. I was quite a tomboy when I was young, so any sport attracted me.
How has your cricketing journey been?
It has been an incredible journey thus far. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to represent Hong Kong at such a young age, travelling to countries I never would’ve imagined (e.g. Kuwait and Bangladesh), go to the Asian Games, as well as play in Australia alongside some of the greatest international players in the women’s game.
What kind of struggle did you face during your cricketing journey?
Having played cricket throughout my entire high school and university life, there have been times when I’ve had to juggle with studies and training. However my mentors (parents, coaches and teachers) have always been very supportive, so I’ve been able to balance my social, school and extra-curricular activities quite well.
How is cricket perceived in Hong Kong?
Cricket is still not well recognized in Hong Kong. However, I do believe this is slowly changing as we start to implement more coaching clinics at schools. We just need more support and recognition from the government.
Do you have an alternate career in your mind?
Having graduated with a First Class Honors from The University of Hong Kong in B.Sc. Exercise & Health / Nutrition, I’ve always looked to pursue a career in the area of health and wellness. I am currently working in the nutraceutical industry with Gencor Pacific.
Who do you look up to up to in the world of cricket?
I think with the way they have performed this year in both WBBL and for Australia, Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry are two players that I admire.
You have won eight league titles in a row and seven T20 titles and also are the captain of the National team. What is your take on it?
I definitely am proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish at the age of 23. However, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my team and mentors. By playing a sport that you love alongside people you enjoy being around, success is bound to come if you’re disciplined.
Do you think the women’s game seems to have finally reached the public consciousness?
The women’s game definitely has gained more traction in recent years. However, it could still reach a wider audience with more media and sponsors. Particularly after India vs England World Cup Finals, the public is starting to see women’s cricket as its own standalone product.
You have said, “Being the only girl, I wanted to prove the boys wrong about the preconceived idea of girls not being able to play the sport.” Could you elaborate?
A decade ago when I played, there was a stereotype that girls couldn’t play the sport. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the line “you throw like a girl” before. This led girls not to pursue a sport, which almost makes that statement inevitable. The competitive person I am, once I realized I was always the “last (wo)man standing” in catching competitions, I started to gain the belief that I could be better than many of the boys I played with if I am committed to the sport.
What other things do you do apart from cricket?
After becoming employed full-time last year, I’ve been travelling almost every other month for business. So my schedule can get a bit hectic! Aside from that, I enjoy spending my time with my friends in Hong Kong, whether that’s a catch up after work for Happy Hour or hiking on the weekends.
Do you set targets or goals for yourself?
Yes. Personal, social, work and health-related goals.
Finally, what are your long term and short term goals?
Cricket-wise, my short term goal is to reflect on the most recent tournament and work on the areas I need to improve on. Long term wise, my goal is to keep leading Hong Kong and to really establish a solid, experienced team (our average age is around 23 years. So huge potential in years to come!) Work wise, I hope to establish myself more in the industry and to really help the company grow.