She's keen to inspire country cricketers to follow their dream and now Emma Hughes has been given a boost to ensure she can continue achieving hers.
The Dubbo junior is an emerging fast bowler with both the NSW Breakers and Sydney Sixers and this week she's been confirmed as the beneficiary of a pioneering grant to help young regional female cricketers transition into city life.
The $10k grant, courtesy of the Cricket NSW Foundation, will aim to encourage Hughes to pursue further education, with the goal of improving overall wellbeing and ensuring retention in the game, while living away from home.
The Cricket NSW Foundation is the charitable arm of Cricket NSW and exists to enhance people's lives through cricket, by enabling greater access to the game and promoting social connection.
For Hughes, who is studying a Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science at Australian Catholic University, the grant will alleviate many of the pressures faced by young athletes moving to Sydney.
"When I found out about this I was ecstatic," Hughes said.
"For me and others in the future, this grant will be hugely important to a lot of athletes that have come from remote areas. It's a stress for some people to come to Sydney and move away from their families, especially at a young age so I think it's really important. It's a great step.
"Personally, it's going to be a massive help relieving the stresses of paying rent down here and also on my parents, thinking of my wellbeing. It gives me the option to find somewhere to live that suits me and how I grew up, rather than the first place I find.
"It's a relief for the family to know I'm in good hands down here in the Breakers set up.
"For me study is huge too and this helps with that. I'm trying to get uni done so I am set up and have my future sorted. Being able to balance that with my cricket is crucial."
The relocation grant is reflective of the holistic approach to athlete development for Cricket NSW, according to Head of Female Cricket, Leah Poulton.
"Our goal is for our people to be successful in life, not just on the pitch...if we can support our athletes to partake in a variety of experiences and opportunities, it will ultimately assist them in reaching their potential," Poulton said.
"The women we have in our Breakers program are wonderful role models who are doing great things in a variety of fields...we are extremely proud of them and the example they set."
Poulton can relate to the strains and pressures faced with relocation and believes this initiative will be invaluable for young athletes like Emma.
"I know first hand how hard it can be to relocate from a regional area and the lack of security you feel in those first few years while you find your feet," Poulton said.
"This relocation grant will remove one less stress and enable the recipient to place greater focus on their education."
Hughes is currently preparing for the 2021/22 season with the Breakers while she's also look to continue her Twenty20 development in WBBL after making her debut with the Sixers last summer.
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