ECB to invest £50m in transforming women's cricket
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ECB to invest £50m in transforming women's cricket

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To truly transform women’s and girls’ cricket, we must now move from targeted standalone programmes to addressing the whole pathway as one

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has pledged to transform women's cricket by investing up to £50m in the women's game over the next five years.

Around £20m will be invested over the next two years, with the total of £50m expected to be reached by 2024.

Funding will be targeted to enable cricket organisations to recruit more dedicated resources for the women's game, improve the female player experience and increase the opportunities for women to build careers in the sport.

ECB has also made a commitment to fund of 40 full-time professional, domestic contracts for women players. These contracts will be in addition to the existing England Women Centrally Contracted players.

The funding forms part of an ECB action plan to make cricket a gender-balanced sport – in which men's and women's cricket are treated equally.

The 10-point action plan aims to transform all elements of women’s and girls’ cricket in England and Wales – from increasing engagement and growing representation to improving opportunities across the game.

The plan focuses on five key objectives:

Participation: To increase the number of women and girls playing cricket recreationally

Pathway: To develop aspiring female cricketers (U11-17) as players and people

Performance: To drive the performance of England women’s cricket through a new semi-professional, eight region structure

Profile: To elevate the profile of women’s cricket through The Hundred, the England Women’s team and the elite game

People: To increase the representation of women across the cricket workforce

The plan has been published following two years of consultation with all 38 Counties and Cricket Wales, and detailed analysis of thousands of survey responses from the recreational and elite game.

To test some of the recommendations for the recreational game, ECB has run pilot programmes with over 600 cricket clubs to better understand the essential criteria in creating the most sustainable women’s and girls’ clubs.

"I've never been more excited by the opportunity in front of us right now," said Clare Connor, ECB's managing director for Women’s Cricket.

“Recent initiatives have given women and girls more opportunities to play, such as All Stars Cricket for 5-8-year-olds, the South Asian female activators programme, and the Kia Super League for our most talented domestic cricketers. But to truly transform women’s and girls’ cricket, we must now move from targeted standalone programmes to addressing the whole pathway as one.

“We have an amazing opportunity to make cricket the sport we want it to be - a sport that is modern, innovative and inclusive. I have been so heartened by the level of enthusiasm, commitment and support for this plan from everyone involved in cricket.”

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison added that transforming women’s and girls’ cricket is one of six priorities within the ECB’s Inspiring Generations strategy for 2020-2024.

“During the development of Inspiring Generations, and extensive conversations and research across the game, the strong appetite to transform cricket’s relationship with women and girls was abundantly clear," Harrison said.

“There is tremendous energy across the cricket network to pursue the game’s largest growth opportunity and to increase the number of women and girls playing, watching and volunteering at every level of the game.

“This plan, formed in collaboration with the whole cricket network, and supported by our commercial and media partners, represents a crucial step in achieving our ambition of making cricket a gender-balanced sport.”

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