I came from a family who didn’t play beach cricket. As a child I used to sit on my towel pretending to build a sandcastle, watching other beach cricket-playing families longingly wishing the ball would come my way and I’d get to throw it back and they might just ask me to join in. I loved watching the kids bowling their mum out, how competitive the dad always was, the occasional caught out on the first ball tantrum of the smallest child or the six of the eldest, smashed high right into someone’s esky.
I vowed that one day when I had kids that would be my family. And it is. I pretty well bought that beach cricket set on the way home from the hospital with my first born and every summer we stump up on our local beach for tip and run. It’s fun. I see other children watching us, and when the ball rolls their way, I invite them to join in. That’s what I love about cricket, anyone can play, its such an inclusive sport.
Belinda Clark, AO, is the Executive General Manager for Community Cricket, and it’s her mission to get kids all over the country, in particular girls, engaged in playing cricket. In particular, Woolworths Cricket Blast, which is the official kids’ program of Cricket Australia.
As the former Australian Captain of the women’s national team from 1994 to 2005, Belinda is one of the most highly respected figures in the industry – and she’s now using her love of the game to encourage young kids to get active too.
For girls, there’s been no better time to sign up. According to the most recent National Cricket Census, six in every 10 new participants are girls, with 619 new girls’ teams last season alone.
Despite that, there are still some challenges in getting girls to try something outside of their established social group, Belinda tells Mamamia.
"Girls often report they want to play cricket with their friends," Belinda says. "So if 'friends' aren't interested in sport, that can be a barrier. Encouraging them and emphasising that new friends will be made is important."