• Australia's High Commissioner in India, Harinder Sidhu (centre in white), greets the National Indigenous Women's Cricket team. (Natalie Ahmat)Source: Natalie Ahmat
The inaugural National Indigenous Women's Cricket team kick-off their 10-day tour of India.
By
Natalie Ahmat

Source:
NITV News
23 May 2016 - 8:51 AM  UPDATED 23 May 2016 - 8:51 AM

The inaugural National Indigenous Women's Cricket team has met with Australia's High Commissioner in India, marking the official start of their ten-day tour of the subcontinent.

Harinder Sidhu hosted a welcome reception for the 13 member squad, which is the first female First Nations cricket team to embark on an international tour.

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Around 60 guests, including representatives of New Delhi sporting, education and women's rights organisations joined ex-pat Australians now living in India at the function in New Delhi, to officially welcome the team, and celebrate women in sport.

"Sport is one of the things that we have seen that genuinely empowers women," Ms Sidhu told the team.

"It gives a sense of belonging, but not only that, it says to us women, you are strong, you are capable, you have abilities."

She congratulated the team on their selection, describing the players as cultural and sporting ambassadors.

"Having sports as a way of connecting with people, I find as a diplomat works really really well," she said

"Playing a game, getting together on a sports field, there's nothing that guarantees that informality, that interaction and that understanding of each other because you are speaking genuinely a common language, which is the language of sport. "

Team Captain Ashleigh Gardner presented the High Commissioner with a cricket bat as well as her own team shirt, complete with her name printed on the back, a gift that clearly delighted Ms Sidhu.

The tour of India is supported by DFAT's Australia-India Council, which aims to build awareness and understanding between the two countries.

"Australia and India have many close ties - but none are as strong as cricket," Sam Almaliki, Cricket Australia's Head of Community Engagement told the crowd.

"Cricket is really the sporting heartbeat of both our nations. There is no better place for a national Indigenous women's team to embark on this tour than right here in India."

Photos: Inaugural Indigenous women's cricket tour of India
NITV is on tour with the first ever National Indigenous Women's Cricket team as they make their way around the subcontinent.

Over the course of the tour, the team will play in six matches against local sides in Delhi and Mumbai.

The players will also have the opportunity to give back to the local community by working with the non-government organisation Magic Bus, which uses sport to support disadvantaged children.

"The tour will help the players in the room develop both individually and collectively, both as cricketers and as young women," said Mr Almaliki.

"We're incredibly proud of them already, it's been a terrific start to the tour."

NITV's Natalie Ahmat is in India covering the National Indigenous Women's Cricket team's tour.