Passing On The Passion

Happy Mother’s Day in advance to all the special mums out there! 🙂

Maricar Centeno is one mum – passionate about life, her family and SPORT! – who will be celebrating the special day on Sunday.

In high school, Maricar played basketball and touch football and represented her school in soccer, softball and hockey. Talk about being an all-rounder! But it was her all-rounder talents in cricket (she could bat and bowl) that led to her selection for the NSW women’s cricket team in 1999.

Her love and talent for sport grew throughout her high school years, especially after her PE teacher saw her natural talents and encouraged her to go the distance beyond her own wildest dreams and expectations.

Now a proud wife and mother of six children, Maricar tells SO about her biggest achievements in life and her advice for young women and girls who want to pursue their own dreams and passions in the world of sports.

SO… here’s Maricar’s story:

First things first, Mother’s Day is almost upon us and it’s a very special day for many women and families. What does this day mean for you? 

Mother’s day is a very special day filled with lots and lots of love. It is always celebrated in the simplest but most heartfelt way. For example my husband and children always do something to make this day extra special for me. It usually starts from breakfast, Robert would get takeaway from McDonald’s – so no cooking for me.

My children would always ask me what I want and I would almost always instantly reply: “I want lots of hugs and kisses and just to be good to Mummy and Daddy”. The kids usually give me cards and letters saying how much they appreciate my efforts for them.

This is the sweetest reminder of the treasures I have and the special memories made by making every mother special. I have a favourite inspirational quote that I really love:

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child” – Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty

Mother’s Day is very special time also because I have my own mother Edna Gregorio who has raised me beautifully. My Mum has been a great role model and I know that I have turned out to be the best person I can be because of her (and of course my Dad too who is also pretty awesome).

What are the most important lessons you have learned since becoming a mother?

The most important lessons I have learned being a mother is to be self-giving, to be generous and to be always kind to others. I realised that my children will look up to me and that they may try to imitate what they see from me. I always try my best to show a good example.

As a mother, do you think your love for sport has an impact on your children’s interest in sport?

[Sport] is the reason why I loved growing up in Australia, as this is not something I could imagine ever doing in the Philippines. The passion for sports in Australia is truly amazing. I would definitely encourage my children to play the sports they like.

My husband and I, being sports-lovers, do not mind being the typical parents who drive their children all over the place so long as this is something that they enjoy …

Whether it’s piano, basketball training, soccer training, gymnastics or choir practice – just to name a few – I take all the kids where they are required to be. Then after this we go home and have dinner as a family.

My passion for sports is what has kept me being the positive and happy-go-lucky person that I a still am today. This is something that I will continue to share with my children: sports builds character and forms lots of friendships.

You gained the opportunity to play cricket for NSW. How did you get introduced to cricket? What form did you play?

I was introduced to cricket by my high school teacher Nerida Walker. She saw that I had talent in sports such as softball, hockey, soccer, basketball as well as touch football, so she asked me to try cricket. When I did she saw that I could play and asked me to join her cricket club.

When I was in year 7, I started to play for the Balmain Women’s Cricket Club. I was in the very first Under 18’s women’s cricket team. Playing cricket for Ingleburn High School led me to be selected in the Sydney South West Regional Team and I was even fortunate enough to be selected and play for the NSW team in 1999.

I would find myself to be a medium pacer in bowling and I was also able to bat. I would usually come in at either 4 or 5. So in cricket if you’re able to bat and bowl you are classified and called an “all rounder”.

What were some highlights when you look back on your experience competing in various sports?

There are many highlights and all of them are just as special to be completely honest.

On the top of the list would be my very first year playing club cricket for Balmain. I was able to score my first century (100 runs) at Camperdown Oval in a 30 over game.

Also the fact that I was the only Asian girl playing cricket at the time made me feel like I was the Richard Chee Quee (who was the only Asian man playing  for NSW men’s cricket) of women’s cricket.

I scored 87 runs on the hottest day in summer back in high school when it was 43 degrees at Ballina, and I enjoyed playing lots of other sports such as softball, hockey and soccer for Sackville Street Public.

Sport took me to many different places around New South Wales such as Albury, Byron Bay, Dubbo and Crookwell just to name a few.

I was also able to play touch football and join in the teachers mixed competitions.

What challenges did you face when competing? How did you overcome these? 

When competing some of the challenges I faced were the moments where I would lack self-confidence.

For example, I would sometimes be faced with really well-known bowlers such as the current Australian Cricket Captain Alex Blackwell. When I would bat against her I would start to think that I could not play as well [as them] in my mind.

I overcame these challenges and fears because I was surrounded by good mentors such as Nerida Walker and former Australian cricket captains Lisa Keightley and Belinda Clark (I played in the same club with her for Balmain for almost 9 years).

They were such great role models/mentors. They made me believe that I was capable of achieving anything I set my mind to and that I was talented enough to do well.

What advice would you give  young girls and women interested in pursuing a passion for sports?

If you love sports do it! If you do the hard yards and the training, all your hard work will get you to the level you want.

Always put your heart into it and you will become greater than you could ever imagine. I wouldn’t have dared dream or even thought about my achievements [in sport]; It’s an amazing feeling regardless of the triumphs and failures. This is what makes you the better person you are in the future.

So never give up, never give up and never give up. Just always get up and try again.

What are your dreams for the growth of girls and women in sport?

That more young women will continue to pursue their passions in sports…

My dreams and hope for women’s sports is that it will be more established, get more fundings/sponsorships and that women will be recognised in the same way men are.

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