ECB launches plan to make cricket gender-balanced sport

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The England and Wales Cricket Board has launched an action plan to transform women’s and girls’ cricket with the fundamental goal of making it a gender-balanced sport.

ECB’s ‘Inspiring Generations’ strategy for 2020-2024 has women’s and girls’ cricket as one of six priorities. The £ 50 million, five-year programme will see an unprecedented funding of £ 20 million over the next two years, ECB has stated. The funding will enable organisations across the cricket network to recruit more dedicated resources, improve the player experience, and increase the opportunities to build careers in the sport.

Besides, the ECB will also be funding of 40 full-time professional, domestic contracts in addition to the existing centrally contracted players.

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The comprehensive ten-point action plan aims to transform all elements of women’s and girls’ cricket in England and Wales to increase engagement, grow representation and improve opportunities across the game.

The plan focuses on the following five key objectives:

Ø Participation: To increase the number of women and girls playing cricket recreationally

Ø Pathway: To develop aspiring female cricketers (U11-17) as players and people

Ø Performance: To drive the performance of England women’s cricket through a new semi-professional, eight region structure

Ø Profile: To elevate the profile of women’s cricket through The Hundred, the England Women’s team and the elite game

Ø People: To increase the representation of women across the cricket workforce

The plan was produced following two years of consultation with all 38 Counties and Cricket Wales, and detailed analysis of thousands of survey responses from the recreational and elite game.

To test some of the recommendations for the recreational game, ECB has run pilot programmes with over 600 cricket clubs to better understand the essential criteria in creating the most sustainable women’s and girls’ clubs.

“I have never been more excited by the opportunity in front of us right now,” says Clare Connor, Managing Director of Women’s Cricket

“Cricket has been an integral part of my life, as a player and in my role of Managing Director of Women’s Cricket. I have never been more excited by the opportunity in front of us right now.

“Recent initiatives have given women and girls more opportunities to play, such as All Stars Cricket for 5-8-year-olds, the South Asian female activators programme, and the Kia Super League for our most talented domestic cricketers. But to truly transform women’s and girls’ cricket, we must now move from targeted standalone programmes to addressing the whole pathway as one.

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“We have an amazing opportunity to make cricket the sport we want it to be – a sport that is modern, innovative and inclusive. I have been so heartened by the level of enthusiasm, commitment and support for this plan from everyone involved in cricket. The strong appetite to transform cricket’s relationship with women and girls was abundantly clear”

ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison, added: “During the development of Inspiring Generations, and extensive conversations and research across the game, the strong appetite to transform cricket’s relationship with women and girls was abundantly clear.

“There is tremendous energy across the cricket network to pursue the game’s largest growth opportunity and to increase the number of women and girls playing, watching and volunteering at every level of the game.

“This plan, formed in collaboration with the whole cricket network, and supported by our commercial and media partners, represents a crucial step in achieving our ambition of making cricket a gender-balanced sport.”

England Women’s Captain, Heather Knight added: “This action plan is a really exciting next step in the continued growth of women’s cricket. We need more young girls to be inspired to play and those young girls need to be able to see a clear pathway above them that encourages them to continue pursuing the game.

“As England players, we’re fortunate enough to meet lots of young girls who love the game and it means so much to us to see how much they love cricket”

CLICK HERE for the full programme.

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