It’s all go at the moment in the world of women’s sport and this morning’s exciting announcement by the ECB has only added to this.
Fresh off the back of England Women’s Ashes success in Australia already this year (retaining the trophy they won in 2013 and putting the men’s squad to shame), ECB Directors today announced their decision to not only provide the women’s team with a bonus for their Ashes victory but to also significantly increase the funding given to the players. This investment provides the women’s team with a wage that would allow them to give up their current day jobs and head to the cricket pitch 40 hours a week, making them England’s first full time professional team. As ECB Chairman, Giles Clark said, ‘‘These pay rises are significant and as a result, we are proudly creating the first group of full time women’s professional cricketers. We hope that they will become some of the best paid sportswomen in Britain – certainly the best in British women’s team sports.” A thoroughly well deserved outcome for a dedicated team that have won most of the international titles available.
This is great news not only on a personal scale for Charlotte Edwards and the team and a cricketing scale for the future of women’s cricket, but because it also leads the way for other governing bodies to follow suit. The ECB have proved it can be done, so what’s stopping other organisations? Yes FA, I’m mainly looking at you. For example, the FA is an international brand with a league that’s exported around the world – I don’t have the figures to hand but i’m pretty sure they have more gold in the coffers than the ECB. Women’s football is becoming increasingly popular and if you scratch the 2013 European Cup, England’s women have consistently come up with the goods on the world stage. They are high achieving, dedicated sports women, much like England’s female cricketers. And yet, it’s only in the last few years that they’ve even been granted a semi-professional status and a wage that just about matches an entry level office job in Central London. I’ve done an entry level office job in Central London, it was great and all, but i’m pretty sure I didn’t put in as many hours, represent my country and work anywhere near as hard as Casey Stoney, Rachel Yankey et al. At club level the likes of Liverpool and Man City have moved the professionalism goalposts surrounding their women’s teams, yet at national level it still feels like the powers that be are refusing to acknowledge the wealth of talent they have in the women wearing the England kit.
This move by the ECB may also assist in changing the public mindset as far as women’s sport is involved. If a sport so close to England’s heart can accept that its women should have the same level of support as the men’s equivalent, then maybe the Great British public will begin to adopt this attitude also. It’s a possibility….
The ECB also announced today the relaunch of it’s inner city programme with an aim of attracting thousands more to the game. Although the project is not aimed specifically at women, the increase of players and the opportunity to be a sporting professional will hopefully set the wheels in motion for a long legacy of homegrown female cricketing superstars.