The continued impact of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League and the KFC Big Bash League on participation rates among younger age groups has been telling across the country, particularly among women and girls, with WA reporting a 23 per cent year-on-year increase in female players in the most recent census (August 2017).
Australian cricket sought to support that growth through the introduction of the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund, with the ground-breaking initiative announced in 2016 enabling community associations, clubs, school sporting associations and secondary schools to apply for funding to assist the development of new girls-only cricket competitions and teams.
WA has been a trailblazer in female participation, with the introduction of the Perth Scorchers Girls League (PGSL) seeing an explosion from 28 teams across three divisions in 2015-16, to 80 a year later. The introduction in the past season of new playing formats that reflect the ages and abilities of participants has also been an important step in attracting and retaining younger players.
WACA General Manager - Game and Market Development Jo Davies said:
“The WACA has a strong focus on the continued growth of female participation and ensuring all participants are exposed to the best possible playing experience at all levels throughout the pathway.
“The introduction of the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund has provided new opportunities for girls in WA to get involved in cricket and experience a friendly and inclusive environment, with more than 22 girls’ teams entering the PSGL competition and the introduction of four new girls’ competitions in the first season.
“This year, an additional two new associations and 30 clubs entering a team into the competition, enabling the WACA to reach over 100 girls teams and six new PSGL competitions.
“It’s been wonderful to watch the progress made by the WACA and the state’s cricket clubs and associations in supporting and growing female participation, and we look forward to continuing to work together to pave the way for even more girls to play our great game into the future.”
Cricket Australia CEO Mr James Sutherland said:
“We want young girls to have a clear line of sight to our cricket pathway and through the support of Principal Partner Commonwealth Bank, this fund provides increased opportunities for girls to get involved in cricket and to experience a friendly and inclusive environment.
“The total investment in Growing Cricket for Girls is now $6m over four years which is easily the single biggest investment by an Australian National Sporting Organisation into teenage girl’s sport.”
Commonwealth Bank Chief Marketing Officer Monique Macleod said:
“For almost 30 years, Commonwealth Bank has enjoyed a partnership with Cricket Australia. Together, we’re focusing on championing diversity and inclusion in the sport and working to strengthen the foundations of cricket for girls, Indigenous players, players with disabilities and local clubs around the country.
“Nurturing talent at a grassroots level is important for the future of the sport. To help maximise opportunities for female cricketers, we’re jointly funding the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund. Our support will give teenage girls from all cultures and of all abilities the chance to step up to the crease and get involved in one of Australia’s favourite sports.
“We look forward to seeing the opportunities that the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund will provide girls – to take them from a grassroots level and inspire them to play elite cricket.”
More information on the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund, including the funding guidelines and application timelines, can be found on the WACA website.