Sport

Girls pad up for 2018/19

By Andrew Johnston

THE RISE of women’s cricket in the region continues tonight, with the second season of Goulburn Murray Cricket youth girls cricket hitting off.

The Tongala Sapphires will face off against the Echuca Stars in Tongala, while BLU Lions Club will face the Kyabram Fire Brigade Flamettes in Bamawm.

The Rochester Renegades will sit out with the bye for the opening round of the season.

The season has been extended for year two, with GMC junior co-ordinator Justin Cleary saying the girls wanted more of a chance.

‘‘We went with a short season before Christmas in the past season to see how the competition would run,’’ he said.

‘‘The girls who took part in the competition loved playing, but the overwhelming message from them as we entered this year was that they wanted more of an opportunity to play cricket, so we have gone to a longer season for this summer.

‘‘We have lost one team with Echuca South pulling out for this year, but we have really strong numbers and are really excited to see how the competition goes.’’

Girls are able to play in the foundation stages of cricket throughout the region, including In2cricket, as well as playing in the under 12’s competition within the GMC.

But there was a strong message that the girls wanted their own competition to play against each other.

And on top of that, they wanted a pathway.

And the GMC wants to provide it.

‘‘After this season, we will hopefully be looking to provide two different age groups for our players to take part in, so as they develop as players they can move up divisions and continue to improve their skills,’’ Cleary said.

That pathway has grown stronger with the introduction of the GMC’s senior women’s competition for the 2018/19 season.

Cleary says he hopes to see more girls taking part in cricket in the region.

‘‘It’s an exciting time for the sport,’’ he said.

‘‘There are some great opportunities for girls in this competition, also to be a part of Northern Rivers sides, and to go on and play cricket at a senior level.

‘‘It’s a fantastic time for girls to be playing cricket, and we hope to see the game grow even more in the region.’’