Courtney Hagen – creating opportunities to play Australia’s national sport
Winner of last summer’s National Indigenous Cricket Championships batting award, Courtney Hagen, has taken up a prestigious role with Cricket Australia.
The Bundaberg-born sportswoman began in the role of Cricket Australia’s Indigenous Engagement Specialist late last year.
At the time, she committed herself to ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders received ‘endless opportunities’ to play the country’s national sport.
She said it was crucial to remove any barriers that made it difficult for children throughout Australia, particularly those in remote regions, to fulfil their goals and potential.
‘With Indigenous affairs and Indigenous people, it’s very hard to put everyone under the one umbrella,” Courtney said.
‘[The barriers] depend on remoteness, family responsibilities, socio-economics, clubs being culturally responsive and what Cricket Australia looks like in its regard to Indigenous cricket.
‘I don’t think there’s many [barriers], but it is a matter of identifying them and making it easier for everyone. It could be something as simple as infrastructure; some remote communities don’t even have a cricket pitch, and we’re working on changing that.
’I really like to celebrate the successes we’ve enjoyed so far, and I want to build opportunities that are endless. I want cricket to be the sport of choice for all Indigenous people – from the elite level to grass roots.
‘I want to visit the communities that I worked in and grew up in, and see kids playing cricket at lunchtime and after school. That’s where I’d like for a lot of my work to have an influence . . . I also want that passion for cricket to grow so we also have genuine [Indigenous] fans of cricket.’
Courtney, is a descendent of the Butchulla people of K’gari (Fraser Island). She has been inspired to make even greater inroads for Cricket Australia into the Indigenous community by the spirit of the famed Aboriginal team which toured England 150-years-ago.
The team played 47 matches during their six months in Britain, and Courtney is proud of the legacy players such as Johnny Mullagh left.
‘It’s important for kids to hear their story, and of the many challenges they faced and how great they were,’ Courtney said.
‘The 1868 team were our first pioneers; our first cricketers . . . they were at Lord’s and had some incredible cricketers.
‘So, Indigenous people have been playing cricket for a long time, and it didn’t stop with the 1868 team. I want to see more Indigenous players in high performance programs and, as I mentioned, I want to provide players with as many opportunities as we can.’
Courtney is, herself, a great role model. While studying and graduating from the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane, she tutored Indigenous students, played in the Queensland State League Basketball competition, and held down a job. She also worked in remote regions of the Northern Territory.
‘I think taking all the opportunities that were available to me has shaped me into who I am,” Courtney said.
And now, providing opportunities for others is her top priority.