Women’s Big Cricket Month – Case Study

To celebrate Women’s Big Cricket Month in partnership with the ECB, Leicestershire County Cricket Club and the Community Team are highlighting some fantastic role models in the community to showcase their work to drive the women’s game. 

The case study below was written by Clare Watson-Spence who provides an excellent overview of how she began a women’s and girls’ team at Grace Dieu CC.

I’m originally from Buxton but I moved to Leicestershire when I got married. I’ve been teaching since the 1990s and I am and, always have been a bit of a doer!

I first got involved in cricket through my dad, we were taken every weekend to matches to watch him play and I joined the Buxton Boy’s cricket team. My father was always keen for us to develop and we went weekly to the Sunday training sessions.

I was asked to leave (in the 80s) as I was a girl – but at the time there were very few opportunities for me to continue with cricket, so I continued with Netball, Rounders, Hockey and Tennis. These were all sports that I could apply hand-eye coordination to and in the holidays, we would always get a game or 2 of cricket which, was something we all did as a family and with friends.

Cricket is something that has been part of my growing up but, within the last 2 years as softball cricket has been promoted this has given me a new passion for the game. Initially, because it was called the prosecco league…

With another cricket mum, Ally, while sitting watching our children playing and training, we started a discussion about getting a girls and ladies team up and running. Grace Dieu CC agreed to start the team and with the support from the county, we gained a sports bag of softball kit and started with a small group of us.

Over the cricket season, many ladies joined our Monday night training sessions; people we knew from other sports with our kids, the queue in slimming world, even recruited in supermarkets – mums and daughters, sisters and partners. There was a wonderful mix of us that came together initially to enjoy themselves and have some ‘me time’. We set up to attend some festivals and over the cricket season in 2019, we held a family day every bank holiday Monday which attracted the whole family to the club and allowed the teams to meet and play together.

We are a team that prides ourselves on being any age, shape size and ability but we must be able to have a laugh. We support each other, we make up theme tunes for the team and were known to buy ASDA cricket Father’s Day T-Shirts last season, so we could all match when we went to a festival!

As this was the first ladies cricket team for Grace Dieu, or the Grace Dieuettes as we are known, the committee arranged for representation for the ladies and made us feel as much a part of the club as the well established 150 that it represented for the men’s game.

We’ve now generated some 30+ ladies that come regularly or when they can, the feeling was so strong that they wanted to continue through the winter so, we had to hire a hall. For the first time, we also entered an indoor league where we learnt so much about the game.

This season, due to COVID-19, was a challenge but it has been a blessing as well. The pandemic has given us time to explore our options for Kwik, Softball, Super 8’s and Hardball. This season we have had a ladies team developing and played our first hardball game. Two of our ladies have been in a few of the 2nd team matches and we have some young ladies coming through the junior game that we have started involving in the wider opportunities for both the mixed hardball, ladies softball and ladies hardball games.

We have played in the league this season and we have really enjoyed having the chance to play with Derbyshire clubs, that we haven’t previously had a game with.

As long as I am able, I would be willing to be as actively involved. This is a chance for ladies (of a certain age shall we say) to feel part of a team, involved in sports and sharing laughs and newly found friendships. Our younger members are finding the effects of the new friendships and team bonding, playing and challenges. I would love to find other teams to play with, share experiences with and learn from.

We value the men’s team coaches and captains and the input that they have put into supporting us to set up the ladies’ section. We couldn’t have done it without their skills and knowledge of the game, techniques and rules. They have given us the chance to share their knowledge, whilst treating all ladies as game players and challenging us to push ourselves to be better at the game.

I’d love to see more investment into the grassroots game over time. We’ve gone from being mums/wives/sisters of the players to being families within the club, who all play which has given more to the families and more back to the club. There could be so much more of this over time. All of the opportunities we get to develop the game we will endeavour to do so, we can’t wait!

Personally, I’ve gone from softball to wicket keeping in the hardball game. After getting over the feeling that I’m wearing oven gloves…I loved it. We have offered the chance for people to come out of their comfort zones and experience new things and it’s been such a liberating experience to organise but, also to listen to one of our ‘older’ members say “I don’t know where cricket has been all my life but I love it!” What more can I say about how wonderful this experience has been for me and others!

Girls Chance to Shine Street

The Chance to Shine Street Girls project is for participants aged 8 to 15 and aims to increase aspiration, promote mutual respect, and enhance relationships with others, including schools and the wider community.

Chance to Shine Street aims to use cricket to:

– Positively engage pupils within marginalised schools

– Provide diversionary activity that engages young people in communities affected by youth crime and anti-social behaviour

– Break down barriers between diverse communities which have previously struggled to integrate, contributing to community cohesion

– Work towards positive outcomes for young people: participating leading to training, volunteering or securing employment.

Chance to Shine Street Girls sessions will be back up and running soon! For info about your nearest session, please contact Dave Allen on 07495092679 

Also, keep an eye out on our Twitter @leicscricket and our Facebook page for up to date information.

 Other Programmes

LCCC are planning a number of other community programmes to engage females in cricket and physical activity. Please check back here for future updates.