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With cricket season fast approaching, suburban and rural cricket clubs will be busy planning and looking for improvements to implement over the coming months. Increasing club members and overall participation is always of high priority to clubs. The process of luring in new players and retaining past ones will already be in the minds of club committee members and key personnel.
Creating a safe and welcoming environment is essential to getting new blood involved with sports clubs. How inclusive and welcoming your club feels plays a significant role. As community club people, we should continually evaluate and reflect on how fresh, unfamiliar eyes view our club environment. Doing so can help attract newcomers and build a positive reputation in the community.
There are many areas a club can look to and address regarding its inclusivity. Improvements in these areas can culminate in a tremendous overall club environment. Ideally, people from all backgrounds and walks of life can feel a sense of belonging and thrive in your club.
Below are four key areas to improve inclusivity, and within those, some ideas and suggestions. Read on for practical and meaningful ways to improve your club's inclusion and consequently grow your club.
Important Considerations & Key Areas
Leaders & Education
Club officials and leaders often drive the standards and create the desired club culture. If inclusion is an essential value to your club, it must be instilled in your club leaders. They can then filter it down through all other members. Cricket clubs can support leaders by committing to providing them with educational opportunities. When inclusion and diversity are encouraged and championed by leaders, it flows into the club's culture.
Cricket clubs can also consider formally appointing an Inclusion/Welcome Officer (WO). This role would make new and potential members, volunteers, and their networks, feel welcome at the club. A WO would also support newcomers in learning the ropes and helping them settle in. This can be achieved through induction, introductions, and the provision of club-related information.
Club Policies & Procedures
Most clubs already have inclusivity and anti-discrimination measures instilled in their club through formal policies and procedures. Ensure that these are adhered to, discussed with new members and regularly reviewed. These policies go a long way to building a strong, inclusive, and safe club culture.
Displaying these policies in visible places and regularly discussing them creates a strong awareness of what the club stands for and tolerates. It will also provide comfort for a diverse range of people to be welcomed and treated fairly and equally within the club.
Consider allowing club members to give feedback on their feelings about the club's environment and inclusivity. This feedback can raise new ideas and allow any gaps to be addressed. Feedback can be through member surveys, informal conversations, and suggestion boxes.
Cricket clubs should also regularly self-evaluate how inclusive their policies, procedures and practices are. For example, the committee could complete an annual 'inclusive club checklist' and strive for year-on-year improvement in scores.
Examples of these checklists can be found on government and state sporting websites.
Community & Engagement
Knowing your local community and drawing them into your cricket club is vital to gaining more members, supporters and players. By researching the local demographics of people in your local area, you can target and cater to them specifically. For example, look at the migrant population, local community groups and local schools.
After doing your research, you can reach out to these community groups and promote your club and what it offers. One-size-fits-all programs deliver low engagement outcomes compared to programs modified to meet specific community needs.
To fully engage your diverse local community, it is crucial to understand what would make them feel welcome and included within your club. Therefore, your club should ensure you are taking steps to welcome them in and make them want to stay.
New programs or competitions for underrepresented groups are useful in welcoming community members. You could also show support for a wide variety of community events.
There are various case studies of Victorian and Australian cricket clubs adding new teams (for example, a women's cricket team, all-abilities team, masters/over 60's team) and creating overall growth and positive outcomes for the club.
Another idea is adding social events or more inclusive elements to existing events — for example, Ladies Day, Diwali Night, and cultural potluck dinners.
Uniforms & Apparel
Clothing and sports uniforms can be a barrier to participation for many people. Your clubs' offering of cricket uniforms and apparel is important in making members feel comfortable and included regardless of gender, religion or age.
Uniform diversity is particularly vital if your club has a women's team or is looking to introduce one. Similarly, providing suitable club merchandise/apparel for female committee/club members or volunteers is essential.
Using custom cricket uniform suppliers such as Cheeta Teamwear can assist with uniform diversity. We offer a women's specific size chart and garments for our cricket clothing range that everyone can feel comfortable in. Cheeta Teamwear also provides free, unlimited designs to ensure we can deliver a final product that reflects your club's desired look.
Your club can also increase inclusivity by allowing for additional clothing options or modifications for cultural or religious reasons.
In 2018, WA Cricket released an Australian-first Multicultural Cricket Uniform Guide. The guide outlines different uniform options that clubs can provide for women and girls to wear when playing cricket that also adhere to religious and cultural expectations. You can check out the webpage above for tips and inspiration.
It is important to be forward-thinking and proactive regarding club member recruitment and retention in the lead-up to the cricket season.
By following some of the ideas mentioned above and working collaboratively with others within the club to form your own goals, you have various avenues to take action on.
Key planning and steps can be taken now to improve the inclusive environment that your club nurtures and projects. Diversity, and the celebration of it, are critical to a club's development and growth.
Clubs that embrace their diversity and strive to draw in and include all kinds of people will likely see long-term growth and success.
If you have any questions on how you can boost inclusion at cricket clubs through uniform diversity, feel free to contact us here.