Club Focus – ‘Our Growth of Women’s Cricket’

Wednesday 24th February 2021

We recently caught up with Bim Gajjar, Chairman and Coach of Capel Cricket Club, to talk about the recent and rapid growth of women’s cricket at the club.

1. Who was involved in the initial decisions and actions to start a women’s softball cricket section at Capel CC and what were the main reasons for doing so?

I was inspired after a late season men’s senior game at the pavilion in 2019, having a drink, looking around and seeing a number of female members socialising. I suggested to Suzi Rich, (our now Women’s Captain), that I would love to put together a women’s team, asking her to have a quick scout for numbers who would be interested. She immediately started the process and came back to me within 1/2hr with a list of 12. I then organised a coaching session the following week and the rest is history.

The reason behind it was to galvanise the members of the club, with a long-term view of developing a women and girl’s squad.

2. Which initiatives or actions have the club taken which have shown the biggest increase in women signing up as members?

Running free coaching sessions for the local Brownies and Girl Guides has given the club valuable publicity and encouraged female players to join. We now have 24 female playing members, up 6 from 2019. We also run an internal ‘Capel Cup’ where the club fields mixed teams from the juniors, women and senior men. As part of this, the women were inspired by an internal senior men’s game we had, to have their own fixture with Captain vs Vice-Captain teams. We plan on running these internal club fixtures on an annual basis.

3. What are the main benefits you have seen to the club from having a women’s section?

A more inclusive and balanced club, along with the junior and senior men’s sections. By that I mean more active players in each section of the club enjoying the game. i.e. Dad, Mum, Son and or Daughter. This in turn has strengthened the club, not just with numbers, but through an enhanced reputation within the local community.

4. What do you think the women love most about coming to a softball cricket session at your club?

I would say mainly the social side, as the ladies have developed some strong friendships, with of course the development of new skills. Learning new terminology, i.e. Maiden Over, Wicket Maiden, Join the Dots, Square Leg, plus they seem to love the coaching sessions as we make them fun!

5. Do you have any females within the club in positions of responsibility and do you think that this is important for a cricket club? (i.e. coaches/umpires/scorers/grounds-staff/committee etc.)

We have four females involved with the running of the club and they are all committee members. We are also looking this year to put forward at least one female to do a Foundation One coaching course. I feel this is massively important, as this will encourage more females to join in. It gives the club a balanced view point and a better representation of the community we are in.

6. Do you have a specific Women’s & Girls’ Development Plan for the club, outlining the objectives the club would like to achieve with female cricket? Do you think this is important for a cricket club to have?

Yes, it is important for any club and the wider game to see the women’s & girls’ section of the club strengthen even more, with the introduction of more women and girls playing. We are going to be more active with local girls’ groups i.e. Brownies, Guides and Schools, to recruit more playing members.

7. What are the main barriers the club have faced, and continue to face, to female cricket development and how have you overcome some of these barriers?

Breaking down those barriers of it being a male dominated sport is a real challenge. Alongside that, the apprehensive feeling from the some female players of failing and not wanting to take part can be obstructive . I have overcome these by dedicating myself as the main coach, developing coaching sessions that are fun, accessible and tailored for all abilities of player. The introduction of more women and girls has slowly helped ease the apprehension, but we still have a long way to go. Our ambition of having a female coach this year will also help to breakdown these barriers.

8. What would you say are the key focusses for sustainability when it comes to running a successful cricket club?

Without a doubt, running a healthy junior section. Bringing them up from a younger age and developing their love for the game, as they will be the future of the club. The social element is also very important. Our social membership has grown fourfold since we re-established as a cricket club back in 2010. Finally, another very important element to me, is making sure the club is part of the hub of the community, getting involved with the annual village fete and supporting any local groups. This brings in new membership, whether playing, social or volunteers.

9. Do you have any further ambition for female cricket development at Capel Cricket Club in the next five years?

Yes. We are going to actively recruit new female players to the club, by approaching local female groups. We are now seeing a few of the women and girls wanting to develop further and another vision is to field a women’s and girl’s hardball team using the same proven formula of player development, focussing on early years right the way through to senior level. 

A big thank you to Bim for answering these questions on behalf of Capel Cricket Club for our Club Focus series.