More than 100 young people from the Yorkshire Girls County Age Groups (CAG) attended a special morning in the Long Room at Headingley to celebrate the start of the season for the Northern Diamonds.
The morning – attended by the selected u11s through to u18s players alongside friends and family, and young people who had been part of the CAG winter training – opened with a welcome from Kevin Gresham, Yorkshire Women & Girls Performance Pathway Executive and James Carr, the Norther Diamonds Director of Cricket.
Northern Diamond players Phoebe Turner, Leah Dobson and Jessica Woolston – who have all progressed through the Yorkshire Pathway system – also took part in an interactive question and answer session, alongside Dr Jane Powell, Yorkshire County Cricket Club President.
Powell, said: “It’s brilliant to be able to see our age group girls from the age of u-11 through to u-18 all in one room and also to meet the parents, because parents are really important to be able to look after the players and make sure that they are ready to perform.
“It was important also to have the Northern Diamond players in the room because I think it’s vital that the age group girls can aspire to become professionals one day.
“Also with me here I wanted to show the young people that hopefully they can then see that they can have a role outside cricket as well. Maybe one day, one of them will be president of Yorkshire.
“We all need to feel part of the Yorkshire family and I think by having the professional players and myself there, and young people starting from the u11s – then that shows what a family can be.”
As part of the special day, players also collected free kit, ahead of the start of the season for the second year in a row, as Yorkshire aspires to continue the rapid growth of women’s and girls’ cricket in the region.
The Yorkshire pathway system sees the girls and boys have access to free kit, free winter and summer coaching and a free Yorkshire membership.
James Martin, The Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Head of Performance Pathway, said: “Financial barriers prevent many young people from taking part in cricket, reducing opportunity from grassroots to the professional levels of the game. We want our Performance Pathways to be the best in class, and ensure that the cost of equipment or coaching is no obstacle to anyone who wants to get involved.
“Over the past year, we are proud to have provided access to free kit and coaching to 940 young people, and we are already seeing a notable upswing in participation and engagement from many diverse backgrounds. The results so far offer hope that focused investment on providing equity of opportunity and driving inclusivity will produce many more stars of the future.”
As part of the complimentary membership which all the Yorkshire County Age Groups plyers receive, the young people, stayed onto watch the Northern Diamonds opening test of the season against Western Storm, at Headingley.
Gresham, who has been involved for 10 years in the pathway system, said: “Today is really special – it’s been great to have the Northern Diamonds and Jane here. The women and girls have got role models they look up to. There’s that saying – ‘if they can see it they can be it,’- it’s a big thing.
“All three Diamond players here have come through this system so they are role models – and role models are really important for the girls.
“Jane spoke really well about her journey and about how difficult it was in those days compared to how it is now – so hopefully now the girls can see that the game has moved on but it’s still got a few paces to go yet and they’ll be part of it.”