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Yeah! Go all you girls

GRAPHIC/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Schoolgirls flocking to pad up

CRICKET

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Wairarapa Cricket is punching way above their weight and outperforming many larger regions in numbers of female cricketers.

Graphics data taken from WCA

An infographic presented by Wairarapa Cricket female cricket manager Melissa Hansen at a New Zealand Cricket conference shows outstanding figures from Wairarapa, one of the smallest districts in the country.

In nationwide figures, Wairarapa has an incredible 8.4 per cent of all registered female cricketers, and an equally impressive 31.1 per cent of all female players in Central Districts, despite being the smallest district within the major association.

Even more notable are the figures from the ‘Yeah! Girls’ programme – an NZC initiative with Sport NZ funding over three years to get more schoolgirls playing cricket.

In ‘Yeah! Girls’, Wairarapa outshone four of the major associations with participation numbers. Only and Central Districts, of which they are part, and Canterbury had a bigger uptake.

Hansen said much of the success came from targeting schools.

“You could do it community hub-based, but in our area, it doesn’t really work, so we went down the school-based line, either doing it in a lunchtime or straight after school,” she explained.

“This year, we managed to get it into school time, in PE classes and stuff like that, and that’s why we’ve had great success in terms of our numbers.”

Hansen said that Lakeview School was a great example of how the programme took off.

“We put it to them, and they came back and said ‘Yes, we’d love all Year 5, 6, 7 and 8 girls to do it on an afternoon at 2pm, so we did 100 odd girls there.

“We saw that they were a naturally sporty school, and there was Maori and Pasifika diversity as well, and now they have two cricket teams out of it.”

A further 140 were introduced to cricket during PE classes at St Matthew’s Collegiate and other schools such as Greytown, Carterton, and Masterton Intermediate also had a good uptake.

Hansen said that the small size of Wairarapa Cricket probably helped with the impressive numbers.

“We’re luckier that we are a lot smaller, so we can target some schools where we want to see some growth, and I guess that’s how we had success with Lakeview School.

“We did have a lot of diversity in ‘Yeah! Girls’, and there was a good success in terms of delivering in term four, and then in term one, in getting some new girls’ teams on the field.”

Although proud of the numbers, Hansen said it was difficult for the big major associations to implement the ‘Yeah! Girls’ programme, because they are so spread out, and they possibly focus on other girls’ initiatives.

Wairarapa Cricket intend to develop the programme further, and Hansen said with the funding now contestable rather than being spread equally among the major associations, it will help their case.

“We were quite happy when it went to a contestable fund, and we’ve put together a plan and budget for what we want to apply for to NZC.”

As for Wairarapa accounting for almost one-third of all female cricketers in Central Districts, Hansen was proud of the achievement.

“We know that a couple of districts are doing really well, which I guess boosts some of the numbers, but overall, CD is growing and in good shape for future years.”

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