The International Cricket Council has announced its regional winners and global nominees for its 2020 Development Awards, celebrating the work of the game’s 92 Associate Members in growing the game of cricket around the world.
2020 saw a surge in popularity of the women’s game across cricket’s Associate Members. Progress was made in a variety of ways, from providing central contracts to international players, to conducting cricket development programmes and launching empowerment projects.
The ICC has announced Development Awards winners for Africa, Americas, Asia, East-Asia Pacific, with the global winner of the Development Awards decided by an elite awards panel, and to be announced across the governing body’s channels later this month.
Here are the regional winners and global nominees for the Development Awards’ 100% Cricket Female Cricket Initiative of the Year.
100% Cricket Female Cricket Initiative of the Year: This Award acknowledges the outstanding female cricket focused initiative delivered by an Associate Member to promote the game, either through a physical participation programme or a digitally delivered game development initiative during the year.
Americas – Cricket Brasil
Cricket Brasil made history in 2020, breaking the mould by becoming the first Associate country to fully contract its women’s team before the men’s back in January. Winning four out of the last five South American Championships, the move is set to move the national team to even greater heights, as they challenge through World Cup qualification and other ventures.
The national governing body estimates the project will benefit over 2000 women’s players, from the national pathway down to the grassroots level. The extended pathway intends to offer more possibilities for all that play cricket in the country, either as a professional player, or in development roles within the organisation.
On top of the support for the players, Cricket Brasil after the change was able to join the Brazilian Olympic Committee and apply for professional player funding from the national government.
Europe – Danish Cricket Federation
Thinking outside the box, the Dansk Cricket-Forbund’s Female Participation Programme provided a link to the game with budding women sportspeople, harnessing the power of social media and through consultation and focus groups.
DCF promoted a brand of cricket in tune to their demographic after several consultations with partnered micro-influences, representing the same target the federation intended to attract (16-30-year-olds)
From here, and with an increase in coaching numbers running small groups with innovative coaching styles, combined with a digital coaching sessions online via Zoom, the DCF grew a strong new player pool.
Africa – Nigeria Cricket Federation
Initiated by Ijeoma Okigbo, a journalist in Nigeria, Girls Aspire was launched for under-privileged girls, using cricket as a tool for empowerment and socio-cultural change. Starting with makeshift bats and balls for training, the project grew off the back of Okigbo’s work, who joined an ‘Introduction to Cricket’ course to pass on the game’s teaching to her students.
Continuing her charge, Okigbo sort the help of the Nigeria Cricket Federation to run a weekly session for the Girls Aspire group, with a group of players formed to make a team for the FCT Softball Championship.
Unbelievably, the team won the tournament.
With the Gauraka community inspired and crazed by cricket, both junior and senior players have taken an interest in the game, with a sharp increase in player participation numbers.
Samoa International Cricket Association
The ‘Healthy Nanas’ is a partnership between Samoa’s governing body and the Australian government, through the Pacific Sports Partnership Program, now called Team Up.
Across two projects, Healthy Nanas empowers women and girls through social inclusion, education and other development initiatives. Programme 1 focussed on cricket clinics, cancer health awareness and gardening, with Programme 2 including matches, awareness campaigns to combat non-communicable diseases and initiatives aimed to discuss violence in the household.
More than 200 women attended the programmes over 20 weeks, with a steady increase in women and girls participating in modified cricket and domestic competitions, even in the wake of a nation-wide lockdown at the start of the year. Samoa’s participation rate between male and female players, according to ICC Data, is 50/50.
Malaysian Cricket Association
Malaysia embarked on a range of awareness programs in 2020 in an attempt to recruit more women into the sport, and received support from the Sime Darby Foundation in the form of almost US $1.5 million.
Dedicated to the Cricket Adiwira program, running in 269 schools across the country, over 17,000 girls participated in the project, through either virtual Covid-safe trainings or outdoor play. The programme was run by more than 225 female teachers, who participated in the entry level training programmes.
On top of the cricketing project, the Malaysian Cricket Association launched fundraising missions in aid of the Women’s Aid Organisation, who provided free crisis support and shelter primarily for women and children of domestic violence.
The global winner of the 100% Cricket Female Cricket Initiative of the Year will be announced later this month.
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