CA pledges millions to grow girls' game
A four-year, $4 million Cricket Australia funding drive aims to make it much easier for girls to find their own way in the game.
13 July 2016, 03:32 PM AEST
Girls and young women will have more opportunities to play cricket alongside their peers than ever before, after Cricket Australia announced it was committing $4 million to growing the female game at grassroots level.
The money will help foster more all-girls teams and competitions around Australia, CA Chief Executive James Sutherland said on Wednesday.
Every year for the next four years, $500,000 will go directly to clubs, associations and secondary schools through the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund.
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The other $500,000 will be used to employ full-time female participation specialists across the country to provide ongoing support to clubs, associations and secondary schools.
"(Many Southern Stars) played for boys’ teams on their way through juniors and I’ve got a daughter who plays in a boys’ team as well," Sutherland said.
"But where we want to get to with women’s cricket is having opportunities where there are enough girls to make up a team and girls feel really comfortable in the environment.
"That’s where these new competitions and the approach that clubs take to provide opportunities for girls comes in, to give them a good time playing cricket. We’re going to take the next step as a sport for all.”
Sutherland said while women’s cricket in Australia had a long and proud history, the funding would help create a stronger pathway for players in the junior ranks and at grassroots level, leading up to the Women’s Big Bash League and the national team, the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars.
"Girls and women are playing cricket in record numbers and participation growth last summer was fuelled by the incredibly successful launch of the Women’s Big Bash League,” Sutherland said.
"There’s lots happening in women’s sport around the country at the moment and I think it’s a good time to remind everyone we’ve had a national competition for women in cricket for 70 years now.
"We’re proud of the history cricket has with women … but we want to make sure through this funding that there are even more opportunities for girls that perhaps haven’t been there before, for junior clubs to embrace opportunities and having better coaching and facilities as well."
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Southern Stars fast bowler Holly Ferling is one of those who came through the ranks in men’s teams in regional Queensland, not even realising there was a national women's team.
The 20-year-old is thrilled to know the next generation could have the option of playing in women’s competitions at all age groups.
"When I started playing I had no idea girls even played cricket,” Ferling, who famously took a hat-trick on debut in men's cricket in Kingaroy aged 14, said. "I had a very positive experience playing with men’s teams. I enjoyed it, it was a challenge - always a challenge.
"But I can completely understand why it can be quite scary, coming into a boys' or a men's team.
"I’ve seen such a massive transition in the nine years I’ve been playing cricket. I went from not knowing girls played and now I’m going along to clinics where girls are telling me they want to play for the Southern Stars and the Brisbane Heat.
"There’s an all-girls team in Queensland who play in a boy’s competition and they went through the whole season undefeated last summer.
"This funding will allow more of those teams to exist."
Australia wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy agreed.
"I know from my own experience of coming through community cricket that dedicated competitions for girls to play against other girls of the same age will have a huge impact on the development of them as cricketers and female cricket in general," Healy said.
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The investment follows research into female participation commissioned by CA, which revealed a need for more local girls competitions, allowing girls to play alongside people of similar age and ability, for associations and clubs to actively support female competitions and for better coaching and facilities at a club and school level.
Through the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund, clubs and secondary schools have access to $2,000 of funding annually, while associations may receive $10,000 over two years.
The investment in female participation follows a recent payment pool increase for women’s cricketers from $2.36 million to $4.23 million, making Australia’s leading female cricketers the best paid of any women’s team sport in the country.
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