Girls Primary School Cricket on the Rise

Wellington has begun to see the fruit of five years of investment into local clubs and communities with two girls only school competitions now up and running.

While Tawa Int and Raroa Int have long battled for the honour to represent Wellington at the National Championships, they will now be joined by Evans Bay Intermediate School and South Wellington Int in the Year 7-8 Shield Competition.

The Year 5-6 Plate entries are a massive boost to the region, the softball grade focused on encouraging new school entrants. Four schools, all different to those in the Year 7-8 tournament, have entered with a further four schools competing in the Year 5-6 Northern Wellington regional tournament. Amesbury School, Ngaio School, Newlands Primary and St. Benedicts Primary all new entrants to the girls pathway.

Eimear Richardson, the regional Pathways & Development Manager for Female Cricket was thrilled with the grassroots growth. “It’s fantastic the energy and enthusiasm the girls game is receiving now that players and parents see there is a viable pathway for the girls to enjoy the game. Enthusiastic young players coupled with well organised and administered competitions gives the schools a great incentive to get involved”.

“To have thirteen schools enter teams into the girls tournaments across the region is just an unbelievable jump from just the two teams registered this time 12 months ago. Upper Hutt held their own zone regional qualifier, with Silverstream claiming victory over St. Joseph Primary.”

KiwiSport and Cricket Wellington have been able to fund a female cricket development officer in Upper Hutt which has been instrumental in working alongside the Upper Hutt CDO’s to get a zone qualifier tournament together.

“We had Silverstream and St. Josephs’ enter the girls only tournament, but we actually had 34 girls in total playing in the tournament across both the boys and girls. In Term 4, we had four teams in the Year 5-6 tournament alone, so it’s been a really exciting 24 months for girls in Upper Hutt. Previously they had no option to play girls only cricket.” said Justine Dunce, the Upper Hutt Female Cricket Development Officer.

Richardson reckons that there is big potential for further growth in the immediate upcoming three year period to 2020 and the end of the first half of the Cricket Wellington Strategic Plan “Capturing the Capital” . While the stated goal is for a 25-30% growth in female junior playing population among clubs by 2020, Richardson was adamant that growth in schools cricket was the primary target to effect the overall club numbers.

“Since 2015 Cricket Wellington has already achieved a 44% growth in female junior club members, so with three seasons until 2020, CW will have to reassess it’s goals to maybe 100%. It sounds like a big number, but when your base line figure in 2015 is 117 players scattered among boys teams, it’s not hard to imagine the potential pace for growth with a girls only environment added to the pathway along with better coaching programmes. We have seen this with the girls regional Year 5-8 SuperStar Smash League”

“Girls, well in fact all children, choose to play a sport if they enjoy it. A major part to that enjoyment is getting to play with their friends and while some girls will be fine to compete among the boys, others are more comfortable in an all girls environment”

“The girls softball school format in the opening stages means that the likes of girls netball teams, football teams or hockey teams, or any sport really who traditionally play in the winter months can get together as a team and try their athletic abilities at another sport and learn different skills.”

“Cricket is fantastic for the girls as they learn to be strong individually within a team environment and there’s a great social aspect too as they support their teammates who are batting.”

“Girls cricket is thriving in schools and clubs thanks to the growing volunteer base mainly made up of parents and teachers who see the national and region excitement in the game and the benefits for the girls to get involved. These volunteers are the driving force behind the growth so far and their energy is invaluable to the region.”

The 2017 NZ Primary School tournament draws have been completed as follows:

NZ Primary Schools Shield-Year 7/8 Girls – played by 31 March 2017
Tawa Intermediate             vs            Evans Bay Intermediate School
Raroa Intermediate            vs            South Wellington Intermediate

The final of this competition will be played at the Basin Reserve on Thursday April 6.

NZ Primary Schools Plate-Y5/6 Girls – played by 31 March 2017
Ridgway                                vs            Redwood
Wadestown                           vs            Silverstream

The final of this competition will be played at the Basin Reserve on Friday April 7.