Emily Cooksey is 14 years old. When she was a baby, doctors discovered she had a complete bilateral cleft palette, meaning all of her soft palate and most of the hard palate were missing from inside her mouth. With this came difficulties in hearing, speech and communication.
Four years ago, Emily decided to start playing cricket, and she ignited a passion for the sport she didn’t know she had. Playing cricket has helped her grow in confidence, and she now aspires to play cricket professionally for Australia. These are her words about how cricket has changed her life.
I think I was in kindergarten at about six when I came into a class one day and had to wear hearing aids. That’s when I started questioning things.
‘What? Why do I have to wear something the other kids don’t? Why does it sounds like I’ve always got a cold?
Back then I never thought about it too much. That was my life, none of my friends really said anything about it, but I knew there was something ‘wrong with me’, but I always just got on with life.
My mum says from the day I was born, I couldn’t be breastfeed, even with a special bottle it was difficult. I had ear infections, hearing problems.
They found out I have a complete bilateral cleft palette, all of her soft palate and most of the hard palate that were missing, so there’s nothing inside my mouth.
I had my first surgery when I was six months old. But my family and I think I’m very lucky in the scheme of things. I had loads of ear infections when I was younger, and in kindergarten I had to develop a little technique with my teacher to let her know when I couldn’t hear things in the classroom.
Then, around four years ago when I was nine, I saw an ad in the school newsletter to join the cricket team. Mum and dad had been wanting me to play a team sport for a while, and it was Marrickville Cricket Club’s first ever girls team.