175 years after its formation, Newport Cricket Club pledged to
create real opportunities within the club for women. Now almost 5
years on, this legacy has delivered nationally capped players,
trophy presentations at Lords and teams of enthusiastic
cricket-loving school girls.
The secret behind the club's success; 'an environment built on
trust and respect', advises club Head Coach Mike Knight, who with
the assistance of his twin brother Dave made it a personal mission
to give the women and girls of Newport an opportunity to get hooked
on his favourite sport.
Back in 2009, the 175 year anniversary of Newport Cricket Club
was seen as an ideal opportunity with the support of a Sport Wales
Development Grant, to launch a legacy aimed at providing
opportunities for women within the club. Until this point the
club had watched small numbers of girls playing alongside boys at a
junior level, before having to quit the sport as they reached the
age of sixteen, as the club did not have a senior women's team.
"We felt really guilty; there was nowhere for our girls to go as
they got older. We were one of the bigger clubs in the region
so knew that we had to lead by example, hence our anniversary
provided a brilliant opportunity to start a legacy aimed at
addressing this really important issue" recalls Mike.
Although initial promotional pushes to recruit females offered
disappointing turnouts Mike and the team did not let this deter
them. Passionate about getting more girls involved, the club
soon learned that talking to their target audience, gaining their
trust and support would quickly see growing numbers of new starters
as word of mouth spread.
"One thing that we quickly realised was that if we got it right,
we didn't lose the girls after the initial sessions, they stayed,
and they were keen and committed to becoming cricket players.
They then told their friends, and parents told other parents and we
haven't stopped growing since."
A key philosophy of the club has been to treat new female
players as equals to boys. Girls have dedicated training
sessions, but are often asked to showcase skills and techniques
that they are mastering well to their male counterparts and
vice-versa, breeding a club full of mutual respect.
A number of fine tunings to the delivery of training sessions
has also helped Newport Cricket Club work successfully with women
and girls. Rather than competing with other commitments that
girls had of evenings and weekends, training sessions are organised
via group consensus (including parents for younger teams).
Training also carries on throughout the winter months to keep
interest and motivation high.
Now with over 70 regular female players, full squads between the
age ranges of U11 to U15s and a full women's team, numerous
trophies at national and league level (including 2 teams crowned as
UK champions in 2013), 19 girls gaining Welsh caps and quite a few
title holdings over predominantly male leagues, Newport Cricket
Club has a strong future ahead of it in women's cricket. The
club has turned around the face of cricket in the area offering
community opportunities and real progression options.
How they did it…
The creation of a women and girls section was made a priority at
the club led by the clubs head coach and bought into by all
members. When the initial promotional push wasn't an instant
success this ensured that the club remained focussed on its
ambitions looking at alternative methods.
A huge emphasis was also put on reassuring new female players of
the clubs commitment to their future opportunities. They were
as important as any of the male players and were made to feel like
this from the off.
Trust and Respect
A philosophy throughout the club seeing female members as equal
at every level meant that new players quickly regarded Newport
Cricket Club, as their club. Sharing of skills and techniques
with male counterparts facilitated a mutual respect between all
Where junior members were concerned, effort was put into
building relationships and generating trust with parents. As
a new venture the club often held meetings with this group,
sourcing feedback and consensus, which also led to new volunteers
and more male members as Dads and brothers got involved too.
Newport Cricket Club undertook a number of initiatives to help
recruit new female players initially. These included; annual junior
schools cricket festivals, girls only taster days and weekly girls
only coaching sessions.
Making it Sustainable
The club had a clear 5 year development plan, outlining growth
stages at key milestones. Youth teams were initially
developed to allow progression through leagues at every age group,
feeding players into a now very successful women's team.
Training was also supplemented with coaching provision, as girls
became older they were given the option to train as coaches and
support younger teams.