Festival, Final & Forever- getting & keeping girls in sport
This summer, the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF) has been working closely with Leeds City Council through ‘Leeds Girls Can’ to find new opportunities to empower more young girls to take part in physical activity across the city of Leeds.
In partnership, we have provided a fantastic opportunity called ‘Hits & Missus’ which follows the National ECB Softball cricket format.
The big idea behind the Hits & Missus initiative is to open up cricket to women and girls and use it as a catalyst to promote all the benefits sport can bring, such as physical and mental health benefits, teamwork and leadership skills and empowerment. We want to break down barriers and make cricket accessible to women and girls of all backgrounds, regardless of their race, religion or economic background.
Studies have shown that by age 14, girls are prone to drop out of sport for reasons such as the lack of access to sport, the social stigma and cost. What’s more, specifically Asian girls prefer more informal, female only sessions and a shocking 49% of Asian girls doing less than two hours of physical activities a week*. Hits & Missus have tackled this head on by making sure that the sessions are relaxed and informal, female-only teams, free to attend and focus on diversity empowerment.
“We know that the drop out rate for girls in sport is at around the age of 14 and we’re also aware of the lack of girls from South Asian backgrounds that actually play sport or engage with physical activity. Hits & Missus tackles both of these issues by introducing- or re-introducing- sport to girls of this age, but with a key focus on community cohesion and diversity inclusion. – Kendal James
The initial Hits & Missus festival was open to all secondary schools across Leeds, including schools with areas of high depravation, targeting students who typically might not access to sport outside of the curriculum.
“It’s not about elite cricket or natural talent. It’s about having the opportunity to pick up a bat and ball and learn something new regardless of your ability and background and that in itself is empowering and gives you a boost!” – Louise Walker, Leeds Girls Can
Before taking part in the competition, the girls had a go at a variety of fun cricket-related stations, including an inflatable throw show, diving catcher, cricket skills workshop and a Bangra Cricket-inspired dance, with the routine replicating cricket actions!
The afternoon saw the girls get into team and put into practice what they had learnt in the morning sessions, by playing against other schools in a tournament.
Following the festival, the winners from each pool then got invited to attend the Hits &Missus Leeds City Final, held at Kirkstall Education Cricket Club. Excitement was in the air as Allerton High 1 took home the win. Their teacher, Mr.Ross, an avid cricket fan, was thrilled for the girls and hopes to keep the momentum going by continuing the skills they learnt at Hits & Missus in their P.E lessons.
The aim of Hits and Missus is not only to introduce girls into the sport but also inspire and allow them to access further opportunities to continuing playing.
For 5 weeks this summer, the YCF had the privilege of hosting the Women’s Cricket World Cup Trophy, which presented the perfect opportunity to take down to Hits & Missus winners at Allerton high and get a group picture with the iconic trophy.
As a pathway to continue playing the sport, the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation have facilitated a number of continuing women’s only sessions in Leeds as well as directing the girls to any local ECB softball sessions and nearby cricket clubs.
For information on any of our Diverse Communities work in Leeds or to enquire about the women’s cricket sessions, contact Kendal.James@yorkshirecricketfoundation.com
*Stats used from Leeds Observatory and Women’s sport Foundation