Cricket Wales women’s and girls’ pathway lead Aimee Rees is gearing up for a night she’ll never forget after being recognised for decades of outstanding community work with youngsters across her country.
Aimee will head to London on Thursday 2 November to attend a glittering ceremony for the Sunday Times 2023 Sportswomen of the Year Awards. She is one of the four cricket nominees – vote here for Grassroots Sportswoman of the Year Award – but admits she almost entirely ignored the email revealing her nomination. “I thought it was a wind up,” she says.
“I’m hugely proud that someone took the time to nominate me, but I was totally shocked and I had absolutely no idea about it. There are so many good people involved in Welsh cricket. What’s happened with women’s and girls’ cricket here isn’t down to me.”
Aimee has recently celebrated 12 months in full-time cricket with Glamorgan and Cricket Wales. For more than 20 years before that, she juggled her full-time job in the civil service with voluntary cricket coaching. “Cricket was always my passion,” she says.
“My dad played club cricket, I went along from the time I could walk, and I soon caught that love of the game. My first match was with a boys’ team when I was 11. As I grew up, I played for the West of England girls’ team when I was 16 and then I just played recreationally until a Wales women’s team started while I was at university.
“Back then, I was giving up weekends, evenings – basically every spare moment. Eventually I started coaching, and the volunteer work I was doing just continued to grow and grow. Getting the Glamorgan/Cricket Wales job last year and being able to work full-time in cricket has been an absolute dream.”
Aimee’s progression has also included two years as assistant coach for The Hundred women’s team Welsh Fire. “I wake up every day thinking about cricket and helping people,” she says. “It’s an incredible privilege. But the thing I’ve learned about coaching is that it’s about helping people on and off the pitch. When you’re dealing with teenagers or young adults, that pastoral role is so important.”
During her career, Aimee has witnessed a huge explosion in the growth of and opportunities in women’s and girls’ cricket. “We’re doing everything now – playing, umpiring, serving on committees – and that’s absolutely massive. We know the social side of things is a big driver for girls getting involved and then staying involved in cricket. It’s a chance to see their friends every Wednesday night for a couple of hours. It’s brilliant that cricket’s now so much more accessible than it was for me.”
In Wales, the regional system Aimee oversees has grown from 80 girls three years ago to almost 300 today. “We almost can’t keep up!” she says. “Growing the club game and giving the base to those pathways is the next step. We want to prepare these young girls and say to them that being a professional cricketer is a viable life choice for those who are good enough.
“Just imagine how good some of these young girls are going to be. Think of the contact time they’re getting and the access to really good coaching. In time, it’s going to drive standards higher and higher right the way across professional women’s cricket. It’s such an exciting period in the sport’s history.”