Female cricket in Penrith will receive a huge boost from Cricket Australia after the governing body announced a new $4 million investment to grow the women’s game nationwide.
The multi-million dollar investment will be allocated on a $1 million per year basis over four years – $500,000 of which will go directly to cricket clubs, associations and secondary schools through the new Growing Cricket for Girls Fund.
The additional $500,000 per annum will be used to employ full-time female participation specialists across the country to provide ongoing support to clubs, associations and secondary schools.
“Girls and women are playing cricket in record numbers and participation growth last summer was fuelled by the incredibly successful launch of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL),” Cricket Australia CEO, James Sutherland said.
“Whilst cricket has had a national female competition for 70 years, we are committed to further investment to grow the female game with the Women’s Big Bash League at the forefront.”
Young Penrith cricketer Mikayla Hinkley, who starred with the Sydney Thunder last season, said Cricket Australia’s multi-million dollar funding boost into grassroots female cricket was a great initiative.
“I’ve just come out of under-age cricket myself, so seeing that there will be funding invested into the grassroots level of cricket rather than just the professional level, will be really good for the game,” she told the Weekender.
“I believe you can’t just put the WBBL on TV and expect participation numbers to rise – funding at the grassroots level is what’s needed.”
The 18-year-old off-spinner, who is also a member of the NSW Breakers Academy, said women’s participation rates in Penrith over the past 18 months have increased dramatically.
Hinkley’s mother Kim, who is Penrith Cricket Club’s women’s coordinator, has been instrumental in growing the female game in Penrith in recent years.
“Mum was very excited to hear the news,” she said.
“She’s only a volunteer – she doesn’t get paid – so I think it was good for her to see that there will now be funding to support volunteers like her, which is great.”
The Penrith Cricket Club is on the hunt for new female players, with anyone interested encouraged to contact the club.
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.