Kitted up . . . The Valley `senior' team that will play in the North Otago youth grade are (back from left) Emma Meikle (15), Greg Smith, Phil Martin, Isabella Martin (15), Emma Fox (13), Jayde Read (14), (front from left) Johnny Martin, Micayla Fox (15), Mady Rawson (15), Emma Petrie (18), Paige Smith (17). PHOTO: SUPPLIED

North Otago will have two mostly all-female cricket teams this season.

The teams, associated with Valley Sports Club, aim to provide opportunities for girls or women to play cricket.

One of the teams will play in the youth grade and will be bolstered by a couple of “dads”, who help with the coaching and play when required.

The other team will play in the junior grade on Fridays.

Valley Sports Club member Aaron Meikle, whose daughter plays cricket for Valley, said the number of girls wanting to play cricket in North Otago had been growing in recent years.

North Otago Cricket had been running a “super smash” girls’ competition for the past two years, which had proved popular with primary-aged girls, and wanted to provide a pathway for them to continue with the sport, Meikle said.

Several pupils from Waitaki Girls’ High School and St Kevin’s College were keen on cricket, so the decision was made to run it through a club to make the organisation and administration easier, he said.

“That way you get all the benefits of a club for admin and support, and it takes the weight off the schools.

“Valley already had a strong junior programme, and most of the girls were already playing for Valley, so that made it a straightforward decision.”

The youth grade team could also include female players who had left school, Meikle said.

“It is an option for them if they want to come along to join, [they] don’t have to be a schoolkid to play cricket.

“If they want to play in a mixed team they can do that, but we thought some of them would rather play in an all-girls team.”

Meikle hoped the initiative would translate into more players in the coming years, and there would be room to have more women’s teams.

North Otago Cricket president Peter Cameron said having young women rise through the cricket ranks was a reflection of a push to grow the women’s game locally.

The super smash competition had attracted about 40 girls last year and would continue this season, he said.

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