Photo Credit: Cricket Scotland
Hear from Ireland Women’s star all-rounder like never before in this insightful video – thanks to our friends at Certa Ireland for their support in telling Orla’s story.
Orla shares her past, present and future cricket journey ahead of the qualifier for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2024 in Bangladesh.
After facing a difficult decision between football or cricket, Orla made her international cricket debut just two months after her 17th birthday in 2019 and was rewarded shortly after with her first professional contract in 2020.
When making her choice, Orla, who played at under-17 level for Republic of Ireland football team, says being close to home and the ability to play in Ireland were influential aspects for her to consider.
“It was kind of a dual act for a long time between cricket and football and I probably preferred football for a large part of it. I was finishing school”, Orla, 21, explains, “and a lot of people were moving away with football and moving to England. I definitely wanted to stay close to home. Contracts were coming in [for] cricket at the time; you can stay at home and play in Ireland with those contracts, which was a big factor for me.”
In 2022, Cricket Ireland became the second sport in the country, following rugby, to grant full-time professional contracts to female athletes. This ground-breaking move signified a positive leap toward the future.
At present, 23 players under contract proudly wear the green jerseys of the Ireland Women’s Cricket team, symbolising their national representation and the ongoing dismantling of barriers for women in sports.
Certa, the largest fuel supplier in Ireland, is actively supporting Cricket Ireland’s endeavour to elevate women’s cricket and establish Ireland as a leading nation in world cricket. Serving as the title sponsor for the Ireland Women’s cricket team, Certa aspires to foster this momentum and aims to rally the nation to back the athletes as they aspire to qualify for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in Autumn 2024.
Qualifying for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup is currently top of mind for Ireland’s Women’s cricket team, and in a post-pandemic world, the tour to Bangladesh would be a welcome experience.
Orla says that the shift back towards travel has enhanced her work life.
“Beginning my professional contract in the pandemic was interesting. [There was] a lot of training from home. We went a long time without going away on tour, which was definitely psychologically challenging for sure.
“[It’s] a very welcome transition out of the pandemic and back to normal sporting life. A lot of tours came up and a lot of trips away, which are always very enjoyable.”
Orla says that while athletes sometimes have to pay a personal price, playing sports at a professional level is a fantastic job, “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices; I’ve missed my debs, my college graduation, my school graduation. A lot of family and friends’ birthdays. It’s a great job to have and a pleasure to work at. Being part of the team is a great honour. We’ve got a great team, a great bunch of girls; they get along really well, day in, day out.”
“The Ireland Women’s cricket team have proven that they can compete with the best teams in the world and Certa is very excited about what they can achieve – hopefully at the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh this October,” says Orla Stevens, Commercial Director at Certa Ireland.
“Cricket Ireland has done incredible work to attract and foster new talent and Certa is delighted to play its part in providing opportunities for young players like Orla to play professional cricket in Ireland and to achieve their full potential on the international stage. These young players are constantly striving to push new boundaries and are fast becoming the new stars of Irish sport.”
Certa’s ambition is to empower the team to continue pushing boundaries and to perform competitively against the top nations in women’s cricket. They are also working with Cricket Ireland to help the sport thrive from grassroots to elite level and to inspire young players to follow their dream of becoming professional cricket players in Ireland.
Certa, part of the DCC plc, operates Ireland’s largest network of unmanned, pay@pump forecourts and home heating oil depots.
See certaireland.ie for more information.