Representing your school at a national cricket tournament is a big enough challenge. However for Antonia Ward from Wellington Girls College there was a far bigger hurdle to overcome to make it to the finals of the NZCT Cup National Secondary School Girls’ finals in Taupo.
Two years ago, at just 15, Antonia was diagnosed with cancer. She was on a cricket trip to South Africa with her representative team when things turned the other way for her.
She wasn’t feeling the best, but worked through the illness playing two games before heading to hospital. The doctors in Johannesburg ran blood tests and that’s when she found out she had leukaemia.
The cricket playing ceased and Antonia had to go through treatment. After five weeks her cancer was in remission, but she had to continue chemotherapy and missed last year’s Girls secondary school finals.
This year, however, she is back to full health and is making her mark at the tournament. She opened the batting for the side and has also started bowling again, taking a couple of wickets for her team.
Going through cancer is a traumatic experience, however this 17-year old tries to stay positive and hopes she can make a career out of cricket. “I take each day as it comes and I always stayed positive during my treatment – I knew I could fight it,” she says. “I now also appreciated the little things in life.”
Ward’s dad and coach of the Wellington Girls College team, Glen Ward, says it’s good to have her back in the side. “She wanted to be here this year and it was so different not having her in the team,” says Glen. “She was the missing link.”
“I still don’t believe that she had leukaemia but she stayed positive with school and cricket.”