With just days to go to the start of the inaugural ICC Under-19 (U19) Women’s T20 World Cup, the excitement is mounting amongst the 16 competing teams gathered in South Africa.

The tournament is a significant leap in the development of the women’s game, and the opportunity is not lost on the future stars, who have their eye on claiming this first-ever U19 Women’s T20 World Cup.

Ireland captain, Amy Hunter said: “It's great to see an Under-19 Women’s World Cup finally get underway. I believe it is an essential step in advancing the women’s game.”

As more doors open for players due to advances spearheaded by the ICC and Member Boards from around the world, steppingstones such as a junior World Cup make the leap into professional cricket less daunting.

“In an era of growing professionalism, it is important to see an international pathway created – one that gives emerging players a taste of what international cricket and tournament life is like,” Hunter added.

The advancement the game has given young women is seen in countries such as Sri Lanka, where cricket has provided wider horizons for those who nurture their talents from a young age.

Sri Lanka captain, Vishmi Gunaratne said: “We consider this inaugural World Cup as a great opportunity for our girls to showcase their talent on the international stage, at a younger age.

“The tournament is also a good stepping stone for promoting women’s cricket, not only in Sri Lanka but globally. It is a real inspiration for the younger generation.”

Another great feature in South Africa is the number of players who have been accompanied on this journey of discovery by family. It is creating an atmosphere around the World Cup that reiterates why this is the time to showcase the burgeoning talents in women’s cricket.

One of the most energetic teams in every ICC event is the West Indies. Their U19 women’s side is no different at this tournament, having turned up ready to play their part in history.

“It is important to have this tournament because it encourages young women to keep playing, because you don’t know what you can achieve,” Windies captain Ashmini Munisar explained.

She also pointed out that such events allowed the game to keep growing back home.

“Tournaments like this also help the national side unearth new talent for the senior team,” Munisar said, as they look to add to the proud West Indian record in T20 events.

Of course, each one of the 16 teams gathered in South Africa has their sights on being the first to lift the trophy. For Bangladesh, there are added reasons to be optimistic about an U19 T20 World Cup on South African soil.

“Our brothers were Under19 World Cup champions in 2020, and that too was in South Africa. I am not saying that we will win the Cup, but that triumph is a fantastic reference point,” Bangladesh captain Disha Biswas reminded.

“There are strong teams in this tournament, and Australia is a big name. I have a good feeling about my team, and I believe we are going to be very competitive in this World Cup,” she concluded.