Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Queensland Cricket: Inclusivity vital to growth of cricket in Queensland

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Photo Credit: Queensland Cricket

From the tropical north, where the hum of cicadas sets the summer rhythm, to the sunflower-dotted fields of the southern downs, Queensland boasts a rich tapestry of cricketing communities.

These communities, diverse in their backgrounds and experiences, come together under the banner of a shared love for cricket. Through initiatives such as local All Abilities programs to nationwide competitions for veteran cricketers and Indigenous players, cricket truly offers opportunities for all.

However, continuing to develop and advocate for initiatives that champion inclusivity is essential for fostering increased cricket participation in Queensland.

Queensland Cricket spoke with Karen (Kaz) Willis, All-Abilities program coordinator at Valley District Cricket Club whose role encapsulates the spirit of #InspireInclusion.

Kaz’s introduction to cricket began with her grandad at Manuka Oval in Canberra, and her love for the game evolved from there. “Whether he was just at a loss for other things to do with an 8-year-old, I don’t know, but from those times I have always just loved cricket”.

For the past eight years, Kaz has been instrumental in running the entry level programs at her club, introducing countless children to the joys of cricket, “The All-Abilities program seemed like the next progression to remain involved at the club and to do something that was really quite unique and special”.

Through this initiative, Kaz and her team create a safe and inclusive space where individuals of all abilities can experience the joy of cricket.

“Watching children who show up for the first week, anxious and hesitant, transform into eager participants by the end of the program,” she shares, “that, for me, is the greatest testament to the impact of our inclusive program”.

In a showcase of the growth that the cricket inclusion programs are having, season 23-24 saw Queensland enter its first women’s deaf and hard of hearing side into the National Cricket Inclusion Championships since the competition’s inception.

To Kaz, #InspireInclusion means creating safe and inclusive spaces at clubs across the state, where programs can be developed. However, building awareness and visibility of the programs already in operation is crucial to inspiring more clubs to create these opportunities in their own communities.

“We need to work collaboratively to expand these initiatives, ensuring that every aspiring cricketer, regardless of ability, gender, age or location feels welcomed and supported.”

Queensland Veteran’s Cricket serves as a prime illustration of a league motivating greater inclusive female involvement. The success of the inaugural QLD Women’s Veterans team at the Women’s National Cricket Championships in 2023 brought newfound visibility to this inclusive initiative.

For many women over 40, early pathways in cricket simply did not exist, and the Queensland Veteran’s framework offers a fresh and viable avenue for statewide participation. Sustaining the presence of representative teams featuring local players is expected to bolster inclusive female participation further.

Additionally, the triumph of the Queensland Women’s 2022-23 Indigenous team at the National Indigenous Cricket Championships underscores the myriad opportunities available for Queenslanders to engage with the sport. The NICC not only serves as a talent pathway for indigenous cricketers but also provides a platform for players to connect with their culture through the game.

In essence, providing ample opportunities and pathways for all Queenslanders to play and enjoy the game is essential to the continued growth of Queensland’s favourite sport.

  • To get involved with All-Abilities Cricket, Click Here.
  • To get involved with Queensland Veteran’s Cricket, Click Here.
  • To get involved with Indigenous Cricket Initiatives, Click Here.

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