FEMALE cricket has been given a massive boost under the latest round of Cricket Australia’s Growing Cricket for Girls Fund.
Echuca South Cricket Club and Tongala Cricket Club each received a share in $258,000 along with 127 other clubs across Victoria.
Clubs and schools could apply for up to $2,000 to help develop and grow the number of girls’ teams playing in the state.
Both got the full amount and Echuca South will use its grant to establish a junior girls’ team, according to president Craig Dyson.
‘‘The GMC (Goulburn Murray Cricket) is looking to establish a girls’ competition this season and this funding will help to purchase uniforms and equipment for our girls’ team,’’ Dyson said.
‘‘There is a strong nationwide focus on growing girls’ cricket at the moment.
‘‘We’re still looking into a girls’ coach at the moment and it’s still fairly early to judge what numbers we’ll have.
‘‘But at this stage we should get enough interest in a team.’’
Echuca South had girls playing in junior boys’ teams last season, which wasn’t unusual for a lot of clubs.
Junior coordinator Chris Stephens was working on finding a coach for the girls’ team.
The club was already into its pre-season training and had 23 players along to its interclub practice match on Sunday, August 20.
Tongala had been pioneers for female cricket in the GMC after introducing an all-girls under 12s side in the 2016/17 season and hoped to field a second girls’ team this year.
President James Stokes said the $2,000 will go towards developing another girls’ side and providing better female change-room facilities at the club.
Half of the grant was to go towards upgrading its coaches, though under a new Cricket Victoria initiative coaches will have access to free level-one coaching courses.
‘‘(Junior vice president) Travis Johnstone and I were the main instigators in getting the under 12s girls’ side together,’’ Stokes said.
‘‘It was quite successful and already we have enquiries about an under 16s team, but we’re currently working our way through that.
‘‘Girls have always played cricket, however there’s now a big push to see a sustained growth in female participation.’’
Tongala was not only looking to develop female participation this season, it was also focused on being competitive on the field in its senior grades this season.
‘‘We have a lot of senior players coming back who will hopefully gel together and make us stronger,’’ Stokes said.
‘‘We’ve already had a bit of interest in players coming along to our casual hits.’’
Stokes said the fund was a great help in promoting girls’ cricket and hoped other clubs in the GMC will get behind a possible girls’ competition.
It has the potential of five or six girls’ teams taking part in the first year based on interest from clubs in the GMC, and would run through to Christmas.
Cam Kervin has been vital in fostering the growth of girls’ cricket in the GMC having launched a girls’ carnival for high schools in the area last year.
Echuca College’s year seven side made it through to the state championships to play on the MCG in 2016 and Kervin hoped for similar success when the carnival is run again this season.