USA Cricket has announced the launch of their new Intra-Regional Women’s Competition this week.
The intra-regionals, to be held starting on June 14, are designed to supplement existing local women’s competitions and form the first step of the new domestic structure, which hopes to “establish a clear pathway for female players from grassroots through to representative cricket.”
Four geographic regions with 12 total teams will compete in T20 and 40-over matches to showcase their skills on the regional stage in front of selectors. After completion of the competition, four regional teams will be selected to compete in a series of two T20s and two 50 over matches in July, to be held at Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina, and Prairie View Cricket Complex outside of Houston, Texas. From there, players will be selected to represent the Western Conference (players West and South West regional teams), and the Eastern Conference (players from the Northeast and Southeast regional teams) in the Women’s and Women’s U19 National Championships from August 11-13, over four T20s.
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The Women’s Senior and Women’s U19 National Squads will be selected following the Senior and U19 National Championships.
‘The new structure for women’s cricket in America is the culmination of a significant amount of work by many of those already involved in women’s cricket within the USA,’ Chair of the USA Women and Girls Committee, Nadia Gruny, said in the announcement. ‘With the overall player pool still being relatively small, there is no doubt that we need to look at ways to expand the playing base and we felt that a critical first step was to establish a domestic structure with playing opportunities for women and girls at the local and national level.
The new three-tiered approach complements the privately organized competitions that already exist and will allow the best players to come through the system and follow a pathway towards playing representative cricket. We now have an exciting year for the women’s program after such a long time without any cricket and we have designed this new structure with our international playing commitments for the rest of the year in mind and believe that this will help give us great preparation, momentum and pride for representing the US, going into those tournaments.’
Recently appointed Women’s Volunteer Coordinators have already been put to work on the task of coordinating for the coming events. ‘The intra-regional is the first step, and is like a pathway to get into the USA Cricket team. It is indeed very significant,’ South Women’s Volunteer Coordinator, Supriya Desai told Emerging Cricket. ‘I’m very happy to see this new zonal structure laid out, as it can bring a lot of visibility to the hidden talents and allow the right talent to be recognized and recruited to the final destination that is USA Women’s Cricket.’
The South Zone, particularly busy, considering their hosting of the regional nearly a month after the intra-regionals, also features coordinators Ufuoma Ikoba, from Florida, and Asia Sheikh, from North Carolina, along with Supriya. The operation features many other volunteers at the direction of the three.
‘USA Cricket has just laid out a structure for Intra-Regionals and then Regionals, and have appointed team contacts apart from volunteer women coordinators in our area,’ Supriya continued. ‘While we are yet to get more defined roles, as they have just started rolling out the plans, we are asked to coordinate with team contacts and help them in operational needs.’
USA Cricket CEO, Iain Higgins, emphasized the importance of the women’s games for the successful achievement of USA Cricket’s goals over the next decade. ‘Although the creation of a domestic playing structure is an important step forward, we recognize that there is a lot of additional work to do to be able to engage more women and girls at all levels of the sport and attract them into the sport in the first instance.’ Higgins said in the announcement. ‘We look forward to making further announcements about the initiatives that we are planning in this respect when we publish the evolving Women and Girls Engagement Plan in due course.’