On International Women’s Day, our women and girls development officer, Charlotte Burton, gives us an update of all the cricketing opportunities available to women and girls in Sussex this year…
Women and girls cricket continues to thrive in Sussex and the summer of 2021 looks even more jam packed. There are more opportunities for women and girls to play cricket than ever before, whether that is soft ball or hard ball, fun, social or competitive cricket. There are more choices for females to play the game they want to and at the level that suits them.
Despite not having a proper season of cricket in 2020 and limited number of matches being played in the summer due to Covid-19, the number of clubs developing women and girls’ sections in the county continues to grow with 44 clubs now with either a women’s or girls’ team and some with both, running cricket for girls from U10 through to adult level.
For girls this summer, we have had increased numbers of girls’ club sides entering our soft ball festivals at U11, U13 & U15, as well as a huge uptake for the two Aldridge Foundation Girls Cup competition. All these festivals will be played across the summer at cricket clubs and any new players or clubs wanting to get involved are most welcome. It is a great introduction for players who are new to cricket, as it is played with a soft ball. The games are 6-a-side, with batting in pairs, cricket you can play 4-5 games in a morning, giving everyone loads of opportunities to take part.
There will also be our girls club leagues which will run during the week, with the U11 soft ball league, U13 & U15 hard ball leagues, as well as a new U11 hard ball league and a U19 T20 competition.
There are plenty of opportunities for women to get involved in cricket as well. Our Women’s Soft Ball Cricket Festivals are all about getting out and getting active with friends and family: all fun and no fuss! Throughout Spring and Summer, clubs across Sussex will host their own Festivals, bringing cricket to the doorsteps of as many women as possible. Matches are short and easy to play so whether you’ve played a little before or want to try cricket for the first time, Women’s Soft Ball Cricket Festivals are a brilliant reason to don your trainers and blow away those stay-at-home cobwebs!
The 2021 season will also see us host our inaugural Soft Ball Cricket League for women. This fun competition has relaxed rules and without the need for pads, gloved and helmets, provides a perfect opportunity for those who want to play more regular matches in a friendly, supportive environment. The Soft Ball Cricket League is also a great option for clubs who plan to grow their women’s sections; allowing clubs to offer a manageable ‘next step’ along the pathway for Soft Ball Cricket Festival participants and other women interested in sport.
Sitting just above the Women’s Soft Ball League, will be the Sussex Slam, which launched last summer and has replaced the T20 8 a-side league that was run for the last 15 years. The Sussex Slam is very similar to the men’s competition, there is a cup and a plate and teams have decided which competition they will be involved in. The Sussex Slam is a great entry-level option for clubs and women wanting to play hardball cricket in a fun competition.
There will also be the Sussex Women’s 35-over league, which is played on a Sundays and gives clubs the opportunity to play a longer format of the game, with seven clubs involved this year. Our Sussex league sits just below the Women’s Southern League Championship and Premiership.
During the summer we will be looking to run some women’s hard ball taster sessions. These will give those that have either been involved in a women’s soft ball festival or who have never tried cricket and wants to give hard ball cricket a go straight away the opportunity to try it out. We will be running some across each area of the county towards the end of the summer. Further details will be put on the Sussex Cricket website and social media pages.
Outside of club cricket, the Sussex Cricket Foundation are working closely with schools and communities and have three specific women and girls projects running this year. The Aldridge Foundation Girls Project, which is in its fifth year of running, is funded by the Aldridge Foundation and Sir Rod Aldridge and links with our partnership with the Aldridge Cricket Academy and the Junior Cricket Pathway at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA). The role of the Aldridge Foundation Girls Project is to not only give girls in the Brighton and Portslade areas the opportunity to play cricket, but it is also to make them aware of BACA as a way of combining secondary school education with a junior cricket pathway. We work with the local primary schools in the area, deliver girls-specific coaching at BACA and this year will also run some girls cricket holiday camps at BACA during half term and the summer holidays. Alongside this we are looking to run the community hubs in Portslade and Brighton again during August & September and will have the first ever Aldridge Foundation Girls U10 cup competition.
One of our newer projects is the Crawley Women & Girls project, which has been funded through Active Sussex and the Tackling Inequalities Fund (TIF). This project will run until the summer of 2022 and will help us develop cricket for women and girls in the Crawley area. The project will involve us working with three clubs, Crawley Eagles CC, Three Bridges CC and Ifield CC to help get women and girls cricket running at the clubs, and we will be delivering coaching sessions at each club for 10 weeks starting from May. Each club will also hold a women’s softball afternoon or evening to engage more women to join. We will also be delivering cricket at a couple of mosques in the area, as well as taking cricket into other areas of the community. For example, we will be working with charities and other sports like Crawley Old Girls football where we are going to be running fun days together, for women to get involved in different sporting activities. The project also enables us to deliver a free foundation level one coaching course for women in Crawley, who will then be able to work with our coaches at the club sessions to mentor and develop them further.
Our final standalone girls project is the Chance to Shine Secondary School programme, where we work with a number of secondary schools in the county who have a girls’ club not far from them, to engage with more girls through taster sessions. The hope is that pupils will then go along and join their local cricket club as a player or volunteer. The project is funded by Chance to Shine and is a girls-only programme, which has run in Sussex for the last three years.
The Sussex Cricket Foundation are also encouraging more women to get involved in coaching, volunteering and being on cricket club committees. There will be some free, female-only Foundation level one coaching courses being announced soon, which will hopefully encourage more women to have a go at coaching. We are very lucky in Sussex that we have a large pool of women already involved at clubs or in the community with coaching, volunteering or on their club committee and it is simple to get involved.
Some of the women already involved in cricket in Sussex have shared their stories of how they got involved in coaching or volunteering and offer advice of how you can too. Read their stories here.
To find out more about how you can get involved in women & girls cricket in Sussex then contact our women and girls development officer – Charlotte Burton – firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign up for a women’s softball festival contact our women’s softball lead – Lara Johnson – email@example.com
And don't forget you can also cheer on the Sussex Women's county side at BACA this summer. Fixture details are here!