In a historic move, England and Wales Cricket Board on Tuesday (October 8) announced the launch of its new action plan to transform women’s and girls’ cricket across the country. This plan will not only see increased funding in the women’s game over a five year period (2020-2024), but also includes the introduction of 40 full-time professional contracts for the women. These will be in addition to the already existing contracts of the women’s team.
The plan, called ‘Inspiring Generations’, aims to make cricket a gender-balanced sport in the country by increasing engagement, growing representation, and improving opportunities for women in the game. It will see an unprecedented 50 million pounds be used as funding over the course of five years, with at least 20 million pounds being invested in the first two years itself. The investment is meant “to 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,” a press release from the ECB stated.
“This action plan is a really exciting next step in the continued growth of women’s cricket,” said Heather Knight, captain of England, following the announcement. “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. Much of this plan is about normalising the game for women and girls and I’m excited to see how this increased opportunity takes the game forward.”
— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) October 8, 2019
Clare Connor, ECB Managing Director, Women’s Cricket, added that if women’s cricket in England needs to be “truly transformed” then the entire pathway needs to be addressed.
“We have an amazing opportunity to make cricket the sport we want it to be – a sport that is modern, innovative and inclusive,” Connor said. “I have been so heartened by the level of enthusiasm, commitment and support for this plan from everyone involved in cricket.”
Following two years of consultation with the 38 counties in England and Cricket Wales, and several thousand survey responses from recreational and elite cricketers, the ECB came up with this plan to try and lift the profile of women’s cricket. They have already tested many of the recommendations through pilot programs to better understand the needs of the women cricketers.
The plan focuses on five key objectives. They are as follows:
• To increase the participation of women and girls playing cricket recreationally
• To develop a good pathway system that will see young cricketers (Under-11 to Under-17) develop as players and people
• To drive the performance of England women’s cricket through a new semi-professional, eight region structure
• To elevate the profile of women’s cricket through The Hundred, the England Women’s team and the elite game
• To increase the representation of women across the cricket workforce
“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,” said Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer.
“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.”