Cricket NSW: Newcastle, Greater Hunter Form Female Cricket Coaches’ Collective

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Photo Credit: Cricket NSW

During the last week of July, local volunteers in the Greater Hunter regions, spanning Newcastle, Central Coast and Hunter Valley, worked closely with Cricket NSW’s Community Cricket and Cricket Performance staff to bring to life a workshop for female coaches that saw 43 women in attendance.

The course was designed to give the trainee coaches confidence in organising engaging learning environments for female cricketers at the community level. The workshop was made possible through the NSW Government’s She Can Play grant and led by CNSW’s Mid North Coast Cricket Manager Kate Jackson. Its success has given CNSW’s Newcastle Cricket Manager Leya Wilson the confidence that the region has the potential to form an ongoing female coaching collective. 

JOIN NEWCASTLE’S FEMALE COACHES COLLECTIVE! EMAIL YOUR CRICKET MANAGER HERE 

This year, during Women & Girls Week from November 20-26, Cricket NSW will celebrate stories of success for seven days, bringing forth extraordinary stories of ordinary women and girls who have thrived on and off the cricket field because of their love of the sport.  

The stories will feature, among others, a volunteer on the Far North Coast who gathered 250 girls to come in and try cricket, a girls’ competition in Hornsby and Hills Districts where the players combine cricket with perfecting their moves with dance, and an umpire who balances a career as a lawyer and a mum of two with her love from cricket. 

Also in the offing are workshops to upskill women who would like to be involved in cricket. On November 18, former Australian women’s captain Alex Blackwell will be part of a forum at Cricket Central and answer questions from members of WiCKETS, a specialised group of women cricket administrators, volunteers and specialists.

On November 22, Cricket Central will host the Careers in the Sports Industry Forum, where cricket’s current female staff will speak to women who are interested in a career in sport. On November 26, during the Weber WBBL match at SCG, 100 girl cricketers from clubs funded by the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund will walk a lap of honour around the field.  

The initial plan for the coaching workshop in Newcastle back in July was to find enough female coaches to fill in the gaps in coaching girls’ teams and all-girls Cricket Blast programs in the area. Wilson expected around a dozen women to attend. The fact that 43 women signed up for it made her rethink the potential that female-led cricket coaching had in Newcastle. 

“This level of female participation in a pre-season community coaching workshop clearly demonstrates that the women and girls of Newcastle, Central Coast and Hunter region are motivated to engage with the game of cricket, not only as players, but also as leaders of change, to lead the way towards increasing the number of female coaches in our sport.

“We are growing in the female player space as well, 5-12-year-old female registrations have grown 60 percent this season. It’s important that we have female coaches supporting that growth,” Wilson said.  

Cricket NSW has now created a collective to find ongoing engagement for the coaches in the region. It has three broad levels of female coaches. The existing Level 2 and 3 accredited female coaches bring in their impressive expertise at all levels of the game, and this has helped to identify the opportunities for these coaches to share their knowledge and experience with the newly accredited female community coaches who are developing their coaching experience in the junior cricket space. 

For instance, 17-year-old Bonnie Brown started playing cricket with Charlestown Junior CC with the introduction of the all-girls competitions in 2019, and often assisted as a Cricket Blast Coach. The workshop in July upskilled her to now work as an assistant coach with a Stage 2 all-girls team, while also playing in women’s competitions. 

The third level of coaches comprise female volunteers, administrators, and even managers to form that club connection. When there is a need for it, these upskilled ladies are able to coach junior cricket teams and effectively run training sessions.  

Naomi Hatton, who is the Girls Cricket Officer at Lake Macquarie Junior Cricket Club, for example, has coached her son’s junior teams, but with the support of the collective, has been working towards creating more and more all girls’ opportunities with a very supportive junior committee and club at LMJCC. The club has formed their first all-girls juniors team this year. 

Added to that, CNSW is looking at finding opportunities for the new coaches that came off their workshop in July to take up paid assignments at local clubs or find employment for them as coaches and coordinators during Cricket Blast or Summer Smash programs in the regions. 

Leya Wilson, Cricket Manager, Newcastle, Cricket NSW, said:  

“We want to create and nurture an all-girls space for cricket in these regions, where women and girls can thrive in their community.   

“Research shows that women and girls are more likely to participate in sport in an environment where they feel supported and safe to take risks, and that is often in an all-female setting, particularly as they are learning new skills.

“By providing an opportunity for girls and women to participate in female led coaching programs, we are giving our young female and male players the chance to grow up seeing an increasing number of females coaching their cricket teams.”  

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