International Women’s Day – Celebrating the fastest growing area of the game in Gloucestershire
AS PART OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, WE WANT TO CELEBRATE THE FANTSTIC FEMALE CRICKET ACTIVITY THROUGHOUT GLOUCESTERSHIRE AND THE CITY OF BRISTOL.
At the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation, we want to put more bats and balls in people’s hands and give everyone the opportunity to enjoy cricket. Women’s and Girls’ Cricket is the fastest growing area of the game, and we are proud to offer so many opportunities for women to get involved in cricket, as a player, coach, official or volunteer.
Inspire through elite teams
Women’s and Girls’ Cricket has been on an upward trajectory of growth for the last six years. It really cemented itself as a big player in youth girls sport following the amazing ICC World Cup win by the England Women back in 2017, showing women and girls up and down the country that cricket really is a game for them.
Over the course of the last two years, the opportunities for a full-time playing career for female cricketers have increased tenfold, with a formal regional structure that consists of eight teams across England and Wales. This means there are ten ECB professional contracts per region, more than ever before.
The introduction of The Hundred has catapulted the women’s professional game. Double headers with sell-out crowds being aired live on television has introduced Women’s Cricket to a whole new audience.
Gloucestershire Girls County Age Group Pathway has seen huge success over the last 18 months with the introduction of our Girls EPP, we have seen record numbers of girls selected for both Academy and EPP spots with Western Storm our regional side as well as Chloe Skelton obtaining a full-time professional contract.
Our Gloucestershire County Women, the top end of our pathway, will be playing their finals day matches at the Seat Unique Stadium on Sunday 14th May, a hugely exciting time.
Transform Women’s and Girls’ Cricket
It is no coincidence that all the above has led to a huge increase in the amount of recreational cricket played by women and girls. In Gloucestershire we want to expand opportunities for women and girls, so they are properly represented across the whole game, and have made it a priority to ensure that Women’s and Girls’ Cricket sits at the top of the list when it comes to growing the game.
Since the ECB Women’s Softball initiative back in 2017, sections at cricket clubs across the county have been emerging. What started as festivals have grown into softball leagues, both indoor during winter and outdoor in the summer, with many of these clubs now transitioning from softball to hardball cricket.
With a passionate group of volunteers and under the watchful eye of our Women’s and Girls’ Development Officers, we have seen a 147% increase in the number of fixtures played during the summer season since 2021 in Gloucestershire and the City of Bristol, and a 157% increase in the number of women’s teams participating in our leagues.
Clare Caudle-Stephens of Tewkesbury Cricket Club said:
“Tewkesbury Cricket Club introduced a Women’s Softball team in 2022, where we started with around ten ladies in January 2022 and decided to enter a team into the Cheltenham/Cotswold League. By the start of the April, we were up to around twenty ladies. The enthusiasm for training and helping at the club was amazing, and we wished we had started a women’s team before.
We continued to recruit over the summer and now have around 30 ladies in our squad. We finished fifth in our league and our improvement over the season was fantastic.
For 2023 we have entered two softball teams in the winter league and for the summer we have our first hardball team in the 20 over North League and two softball teams, one in the Cheltenham League and one in the Cotswold League. We continue to recruit new players and are looking forward to the season.”
The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation’s competition offer within the county reflects the growth of the female game. In 2023 we have seven indoor winter leagues placed geographically across the county. Our summer offer has expanded since 2022. There are now seven softball leagues, two T20 hardball leagues, a 35 over premier league, Softball 100 Cup, and a Hardball 100 Cup.
This year, in conjunction with the West of England Premier League, Somerset Cricket Foundation, Wiltshire Cricket, and the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation, we are very excited by the launch of the Women’s West of England Premier League.
The growth of the women’s game within Gloucestershire really is something to behold, however, what is even more exciting is the drive for progress, ensuring that cricket really is a gender balanced sport.
Grow and nurture the core
Here at the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation, we are working to create and support a strong network of clubs, leagues, officials, coaches, and volunteers. To help achieve this, we want women and girls to be the architects and engineers of their own game. Across the course of 2022 we saw record numbers of females taking part in Coach Education, Continued Professional Development (CPD), umpiring, and scoring courses. Over 40 women completed either their Core Coach, Foundation 1, or Support Coach course and we look to increase this number by a further 20 across 2023. Take a look at our course planner to find the right coaching course for you.
There is a very real desire amongst our female volunteers to gain further experience and support the growth of Women’s and Girls’ sections at their respective clubs. At the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation, we aim to provide as many opportunities as possible for this to take place within a female only environment.
Gareth Dawson our Workforce Development Officer said:
“The influx of more female cricketers playing within the club environment has meant that there needs to be further provision to support this. As a Foundation we are providing numerous opportunities for females to become qualified coaches and it is fantastic to see our first ever female only Core Coach course run last year, which was a huge success and has enabled us to increase our coach numbers across the female game within the county.”
Transforming Women’s and Girls’ Cricket
As we look ahead to 2023 season and beyond, the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation will strive to build Women’s and Girls’ Cricket into all areas of our work to ensure participation grows. We will continue to nurture and support the wonderful club volunteers across the county and ensure all our Women’s and Girls’ clubs are sustainable and continue thrive.
We are extremely proud of our hardworking volunteers, the fantastic relationships between staff and clubs and our continuous commitment and investment in Women’s and Girls’ Cricket.
Laura Charles-Price – Head of Women’s and Girls’ Cricket 07554452226
Mollie Robbins – Women’s and Girls’ Development Officer 07903823923