New-look Chard on the up
Chard Cricket Club are hoping to attract more female cricketers after funding from the ECB and Sport England allowed them to vastly improve facilities at their ground.
The Somerset club, who received £193,000 from the ECB and £340,000 in total, have been able to install new changing rooms and have also made alterations to their clubhouse.
England women’s captain Charlotte Edwards was on hand to open the new facilities and told ecb.co.uk: “There’s a really nice feeling around the place and some great facilities in there, which do make a difference, especially in attracting women and girls to cricket. Ultimately, that’s got to be the aim over the next few years.
“Maybe one of the barriers for women and girls wanting to play cricket is often facilities and so on, but there’s certainly no excuse here. Having seen the facilities in there and the new changing facilities especially, it’s fantastic.
"When I was growing up playing the game, I had to change in the ladies’ loo, and sometimes often in the tractor shed as well!
"So, for me, it’s fantastic that girls get these opportunities now and hopefully Chard Cricket Club can really reap the rewards of this.
"I know they’ve got a really thriving women and girls section, which is fantastic. This will only enhance that.”
Edwards added: “The more money we can get put into facilities like this at local clubs, it just keeps putting women’s cricket on the map, which is really important to me and really important to the women’s game.
“The game is thriving at the moment and any money like this that Sport England and the ECB are putting in to women's and girl's (cricket) is very much appreciated.”
Chard chairman Kevin Clancy also expressed his pleasure at the improvements to the ground.
“We were very fortunate to receive funding from the ECB,” he said. “Our funding was based upon a scheme to assist ladies and girls cricket development within our area.
“Our changing rooms now have integral showers and toilet facilities. This contrasts with (the) mediocre showers that we had previously and our poor social facilities.
"We have this year been able to develop from under-11s to under-13s and under-15s. We are a 'Chance to shine' club as well, so because of that we have links with eight local schools and we have been able to develop our teams based on that.
“We are hoping that we will have a ladies team here, but at the moment we have offered our facilities to Somerset ladies, who have played here, and also to Somerset youth teams.
"Everyone is absolutely over the moon in our club at the facility that we have. We are able to say that, without doubt, within south-west England, there will be very few facilities to compare with this for any sport.”