Tavistock CC have set up a thriving girls' section with the support of local sponsors and the Devon Cricket Foundation.
"It all started with conversations with Ann-Marie [Presswell, Women & Girls' Development Officer] from Devon Cricket about how we would bring about the women and girls' set up at the club," recalls Steve Cox, who has led on the efforts to set up the female side at Tavistock CC.
Fortunately for Steve, the perfect opportunity arose to gather momentum with Tavistock CC hosting the 2023 Colour Me Cricket festival. The festival is an event organised by the Devon Cricket Foundation (DCF) at the end of the cricket season designed to give clubs who have started to grow their girls' sections a first taste of cricket in a relaxed and fun environment:
"I wanted to get a team together for it, so through friends and some of the girls who played at the club we got a team together. Everyone enjoyed themselves and we just thought: let's try and keep it going."
"Seeing girls' cricket in Tavistock from nothing to really quite a busy cricket scene is fantastic."
With only a handful of players committed, the club went all out on social media to promote free, 'give-it-a-go' winter camps for girls to look to grow the setup. "We did a big social media campaign and advertisements on Facebook, and got 21 signups, with only seven or eight being players we already knew about. We now have about 16 regulars at our Sunday sessions, with others joining in occasionally when they're not doing other sports."
Steve admits that a major factor behind his drive to develop the girls' side comes from wanting to see further cricketing opportunities for his daughter Jasmine: "She's gone through our All Stars and Dynamos, and we have some girls in those, but now that she's in the Hardball Under 11 team she's the only girl.
"Those of us who love cricket know it's a game for everyone. I thought: it can't just be me, she can't just be here because she's my daughter; there must be other girls that want to play."
The increasing profile of the women's game, both nationally and internationally, has had a major impact on the viability of the girls' section at the club: "We've had the occasional girl at All Stars and Dynamos, but they would end up dropping off. I don't think setting up a girls' side would have been possible until very recently with the exposure around the women's game: the England team and The Hundred. I really want to take the girls to see England at Somerset later this year so they can see people they can emulate."
Helping lead the Sunday sessions is Sarah Field, who initially got involved at the club by helping at All Stars and Dynamos sessions: "My son started doing All Stars and my daughter was in Dynamos at that point and I said to Steve I would help out. I did that for three years."
For Sarah, the past year has seen her quickly get more involved in the sport, becoming part of the club's first-ever women's team alongside her coaching role: "I've got the bug now: I played with the ladies' team and I love being part of the girls' team.
"When Steve put on the winter camp he asked me if I would do my Foundation Course to be part of the girls' coaching team and it's fantastic. Seeing all the progression and joy they get from it is absolutely fantastic. Seeing girls' cricket in Tavistock from nothing to really quite a busy cricket scene is fantastic."
The next step for the girls' section at the club is to start entering competitions. "It would be nice if we could get more people on board," says Sarah. "Hopefully we gather a bit more momentum once we get into the summer, enter leagues and get competitions experience."
"We have enough numbers now for two teams," says Steve. "We have an Under 11 team and an Under 13 team in the Devon Cricket Softball League. We're going to compete in the league and have fun, that's the ambition."
Steve was also quick to point out his and the club's gratitude to sponsor Nathan McCarter Joinery, whose financial contribution has helped with the running costs of the winter camps and to ensure that the sessions are free for the girls.
"In terms of the outlay [to run the winter camps] you've got the hall, new kit, new cricket kit bags... it's about £1,300 just to get started. We're very lucky we've got a local sponsor come in who have been good and allowed us to invest in everyone: every girl will have new kit and use new equipment. That sends a message to me that they're serious about what we're trying to do here.
"We're also really grateful to the David Shepherd Cricket Trust, who have given us a grant to help get everything started up, and to the club, who last year committed the resources to extend the clubhouse and create a dedicated female changing room."
Reflecting on the great work the club have done over the last few months, DCF's Ann-Marie said:
"Steve has been the driving force behind the development of the girls' section at Tavistock and his hard work and determination have shone through.
"When there is so much competition for girls’ sport over the winter, it is difficult to keep girls’ interested in cricket, but that is not the case here at Tavistock. This is a testament to the coaches who have set up a positive and nurturing environment for the girls, so they want to keep coming back.
"I am really pleased that all their hard work has paid off. I wish the club all the best in their first league season"
Steve was full of praise for Ann-Marie's help and guidance throughout the process of setting up the girls' section at Tavistock CC:
"She's been fantastic in encouraging, supporting and guiding us to get this going. She's been really helpful and an integral part in us doing this."
The number of girls accessing cricket through school and clubs continues to grow. If your club has found that you have a growing number of girls, please get in touch with Ann-Marie Presswell. Ann-Marie, DCF's Women & Girls' Development Officer, offers support for clubs, including club meetings, school activation and support in how to ensure your club is going to offer the best coaching and cricket club experience for girls.
With the Women’s T20 World Cup coming up in 2026, there is no better time to start getting girls ready for cricket!