Drive for Diversity - Attracting Women to the Sportsturf Sector with Emma Cowdrill

The Women and girls’ development officer at Ageas Bowl tells us how she’s helping young women experience different opportunities within cricket.

What’s your career background and what does your current role as women and girls’ development officer at Ageas Bowl entail?

I have always played a lot of sport and started coaching aged 16. In later years, I coached cricket in my children’s schools and clubs alongside family life and working as an oncology nurse.

I gradually got more involved in the sport, took more qualifications and landed my role with the Hampshire Cricket Board (HCB).

My current remit is to offer as many different opportunities as possible to engage women and girls throughout Hampshire, whether through playing, officiating or coaching. I also help clubs set up women and girls’ sections, and support clubs that already offer these.

What development programmes are available for women and girls in Hampshire?

The HCB offers softball and hardball playing opportunities for women and girls of all ages in leagues, cups and festivals. It also runs regional performance centres from under-10s to under-15s in four districts – these are the bridge between club and County Cricket.

We also work closely with the Hampshire Association of Cricket Officials, running several scoring and umpiring courses for women and girls each year. Furthermore, we run female-only coaching courses at all levels in a supportive and non-threatening environment.

You enrolled 10 Viper Champions onto the GMA Level 1 online cricket course. What benefits can they gain in this programme?

Viper Champions (VC) offer girls basic cricket coaching, umpiring and scoring skills. The Vipers Champions are always asking for additional opportunities and as valued members of the HCB team we are keen to support them.

While the girls are all passionate about cricket, few will go on to make a career out of playing. Giving them a variety of experiences – including a better understanding of grounds management - will not only keep these enthusiastic and capable young ladies in the sport, but will develop them as people and add benefit to their clubs.

How are the girls enjoying the online course and how will they use their newfound skills?

There’s a bit of anxiety around the end exam, as girls worry about not passing. Although I’m sure once they are out in the field it will all fall into place.

I have approached Ageas Bowl head groundsman Simon Lee to allow the girls to shadow him and our previous groundsman, Karl McDermott, who is now at Lord’s. I am also approaching the girls’ own clubs to ensure they get some practical experience, particularly as squares are being woken up next spring, as this will open up training opportunities to women too.


For more information on GMA online courses, visit: training