Newly elected Gundagai District Cricket Association (GDCA) president Michael Hargreaves believes his association can build on recent momentum in Gundagai cricket by developing and promoting a women’s competition, while also increasing local junior numbers.
Hargreaves was recently elected president for the 2023-24 season alongside club stalwarts Craig Hargreaves (vice-president), Chris Tozer (secretary) and life member Craig Ferguson (treasurer).
Supported by a strong turnout of players and officials for the annual general meeting, each member brought something to the table that looked to add to the success of the recently revamped Hogan Gold Cup, and growth in participation and competitiveness in the Elders Cup.
A keen cricketer and enthusiastic administrator, Hargreaves’ strong involvement in the founding of the Murrumbidgee Mankadders will provide a solid platform for his new role.
“I’m very lucky to be elected president of the GDCA. It is a huge role with lots of history, and I think for the moment, I am just a custodian of it,” Hargreaves said.
“We all want cricket to survive, and we all want people playing sport. As a committee, we can reflect on what’s happening in society and how we can be the ones driving interest in building community involvement.”
With a huge increase in paperwork in recent years, life as a sporting administrator is becoming more difficult. As a result, there seems to be less and less time available for the sport itself.
Cricket is just one of the many sports in the region looking to increase, or at least maintain, their standing within the community, but Hargreaves feels that the GDCA and cricket, in general, have a lot to offer all levels of society, beginning with the juniors.
“The Mankadders are a new side to the association, but in my time, we have lost Elders Cup sides,” Hargreaves said.
“In my mind, that comes down to the need to drive participation across all levels of society into playing cricket. It can’t just be something for adult blokes to do, we need more kids playing the game, and we also need the avenue for women to play the game.”
Hargreaves also spoke about the enjoyment of cricket. He and his committee believe that it is not enough for juniors just to be involved, they need to be having a good time. This will not only encourage their return, but also motivate more parents to become involved.
Friday night cricket for juniors could be one innovation from the GDCA that looks to build participation numbers.
The new GDCA president pointed out that the idea to involve women and young girls in cricket is not a new one, but one that could build on what has happened locally in the past.
Jordan Cooper has played in GDCA teams for many years, with her talents earning her selection in several women’s representative sides, and just last season, a sub-junior side from Bongongo played in the Gundagai competition. At least a quarter of that side was made up of girls.
The drive for female involvement in the GDCA also looks to encompass the idea of family, and with busy schedules applying pressure to recreational time, a sport that provides an avenue for participation for all members of the family is sure to have appeal.
“Our vision for this year is to increase participation in junior cricket and senior men’s cricket through the Hogan and Elders Cups, and by gauging where the interest is in the women’s games with some come-and-try days,” Hargreaves said.
“Within two to three years, we would like to have a women’s competition.
“Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia have a model for this: how do you go from nothing to something? We will also be looking at what Albury-Wodonga did, to start with.”
The program that Hargreaves refers to saw the border cities begin with a few come-and-try days, backed up by masterclasses and other sessions aimed at increasing the participants’ skill levels.
Albury-Wodonga now boasts an 80-player women’s competition, complemented by Monday night social games.
With an enthusiastic new president, the future looks promising for the GDCA, but Hargreaves was quick to point out that he will be relying heavily on the experience of his committee members like Craig Ferguson, Chris Tozer, Craig Hargreaves and Caleb Lindley-Kell, while also planning to introduce younger players to the administration side of the game.
Original Article published by Michael Murphy on Region Riverina.