By Nick Creely
The West Gippsland Cricket Association and Dandenong District Cricket Association will combine to form an Under 17 girls competition this season, further strengthening female cricket in the region.
The season – which will kick off on Monday 7 December or Tuesday 8 December – will see DDCA clubs Berwick, Silverton and Narre Warren South and WGCA clubs Nyora, Carlisle Park and Officer do battle in what is certain to be an exciting competition.
WGCA female cricket coordinator Rob Hansen told Star News Group that the competition will provide another crucial pathway for female cricket in the region.
“It’s on the basis of us developing a pathway for female cricket,” he said.
“We’re into our fourth year of running a girls comp but that started as a stage one for young girls between 10 and 14 years old.
“And we realised once they get to 14 we’re aware there is a discrepancy with the experience and all that sort of stuff, so having an open age comp doesn’t necessarily work very well.
“So the logical thing is to develop a pathway where the next age group can come through, and that’s our stage two.
“It’s probably going to be similar to under 12 boys, where the rules are a bit more competitive and played with a hard ball.”
Hansen said that joining forces with the DDCA made logical sense as it looks to continue its rapid growth.
“We’ve now got three clubs that have a team in West Gippy, and Officer is on the verge of having two teams, but we’ve struggled to get a fourth team so we’ve had conversations with the DDCA,” he said.
“So it’s not logical to try to go alone at this point in time, so we’ll work together so we’ve got a viable competition, and this may be in the short-term and we split at some point and go at it alone.
“But, it’s taking off, just like girls’ footy, so it’s great.”
DDCA vice-president Steven Richards said it was the right decision to make to help grow female cricket further in its competition, with both associations in similar positions in terms of female participation and teams.
“Emma Gallagher, our regional manager, hinted that they were in the same boat and some discussions should happen,” he said.
“(And) it makes sense to do the merger – if we went alone, we would have had three teams, and that’s just not beneficial.
“So six teams makes sense, we play against different strength sides, and they have some strong sides entered.”
With the fixture expected to be released shortly, with confirmation of teams and venues still being worked through, Richards said everything was all but sorted in terms of season structure.
“We’re looking at around a nine to ten week season, and having a final four after the home and away season, that seems to be the best thing, but we want to try and be as flexible as possible” he said.
“We’re also looking at having a couple of people from each association getting involved in the competition sub-committee, and we’re looking to get more female involvement at committee level.”