A BIG growth in the number of under-13 girls playing cricket has marked another successful season for the North West Metropolitan Cricket Association.
The continued effect of the Women’s Big Bash League and the BBL on participation rates among younger age groups has been telling, particularly among women and girls.
The association’s participation rates have resulted in growth from three under-13 girls teams in 2016-17, to nine for this season, enabling the establishment of a girls’ stand-alone competition.
WACA northern suburbs regional cricket manager Jordan Miller said Big Bash cricket had helped create opportunities for girls.
“We see kids come down to clubs and clinics, decked out in their Scorchers gear and wanting to play the game – it’s amazing and most of them, particularly the girls, have never played the game before,” Miller said.
“From the perspective of girls playing, one of the biggest signs that times are changing is we ask these kids who their favourite player is – everyone always used to name the guys, but we’re now getting answers like Elyse Villani or Chloe Piparo, even from some of the boys.
“The exposure that Big Bash cricket has created for the game – whether it’s men or women – is phenomenal, but when it comes to girls and women, it really is game changing.
“These kids are now seeing their cricket heroes on live TV, on posters and ads and it’s opened this whole new pathway of opportunity and helped to change perceptions to the point where girls and women feel they’re just as welcome to play the game as the guys.
“That perception starts with the kids, but then extends to their parents – particularly dads – because the research shows that fathers are the number one influence on girls beginning and sticking with cricket.
“We see that in the field when new kids come and join in, but that increase in girls playing cricket shows that mums and dads are also feeling that this is a sport for all Australians.”
WA has been a trailblazer in the area of female participation, with the introduction of the Perth Scorchers Girls League – creating a pathway for girls from junior to senior cricket – exploding from 28 teams across three divisions in 2015-16, to currently more than 80 across the state.
The introduction this year of new playing formats that reflect the ages and abilities of participants has also been an important step in attracting and retaining younger players.
The WACA is hosting a girls only T20Blast (7-12 year olds) centre in Joondalup through February and March, with the first session a free come-and-try clinic on Thursday, February 15 at Windermere Park, Joondalup, at 4.30pm.
For more information visit playcricket.com.au.