Ahead of a significant international summer for the England women's team - including a home Ashes series - ECB is teaming up with the nine first-class counties hosting international women's cricket this year to launch the #HeathersPride competition on International Women's Day.
Women's and girls' cricket in England and Wales continues to grow and to celebrate that, this competition, fronted by England captain Heather Knight, will give 11 girls across the country a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join her and the England players for a training session ahead of the Ashes.
The competition is open to girls between the ages of 7 and 11 across the country. To find the 11 winners, the nine first-class counties in question will each select one worthy winner from their county who explains to them why she deserves the chance to be a member of #HeathersPride.
The remaining two winners will be selected from across England and Wales by Knight herself, as 'Captain's Picks'.
"Some of the best moments from our win in the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup was seeing young girls imitate us on the sidelines" HEATHER KNIGHT
Entries will be made via social media (using #HeathersPride) or via email. Those applying through their counties should see their respective county websites for further details. If you do not have a connection with one of the nine venues hosting international women's cricket this summer, you can apply to be a Captain's Pick by emailing email@example.com with subject #HeathersPride.
Entries for the competition will close on May 1.
Speaking about the competition, Knight said: "International Women's Day is a great moment to reflect on the progress of women's and girls' cricket. We've made so much progress over the last few years and we want to keep moving forward. At the very top, we're pushing towards more depth and having more professional players, while it's amazing that more and more girls are playing the game through initiatives like All Stars.
"Chance to Shine also celebrated introducing cricket to its two-millionth girl this week. It's exciting to think of how many girls are now choosing cricket. Some of the best moments from our win in the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup was seeing young girls imitate us on the sidelines and hopefully many more will be inspired by this competition to become part of #HeathersPride. I can't wait to see all the winners in the summer!"
Clare Connor, who was appointed managing director of women's cricket at ECB, in January 2019, added, "Our strategy for 2020-24 is all about inspiring future generations and this is a great initiative from Heather and the counties to really bring that to life by giving 11 lucky girls the chance to train with their heroes for the day.
"Whilst International Women's Day is an appropriate day to celebrate the progress made so far it's also important to recognise the challenges we still face in our ultimate ambition of making cricket a gender balanced sport. The Inspiring Generations strategy outlines an ambition to invest £50m into women's and girls' cricket over the four-year period and this level of investment will help us continue to both increase the number of women and girls playing recreationally, as well as grow the profile of the elite women's game.
"Heather's and the team's victory at the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup created a huge opportunity for us and now we must take that to the next level through this strategy. As all of that exciting work takes shape, I'm looking forward to seeing the training session with the 11 winners of Heather's Pride and the England women's team this summer."
This week has also seen the independent national cricket charity, Chance to Shine, celebrate the two-millionth girl signing up to play cricket as part of its development programme: nine-year-old Keira from Staffordshire. The charity used this opportunity to announce new funding for a secondary school's girls' programme, which will aim to reach over 14,000 girls across the country teaching them key leadership skills through the game of cricket.
To enter the #HeathersPride competition please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website of your respective County. The nine venues hosting international women's cricket this summer and taking part in the competition are:
* Derbyshire * Essex * Gloucestershire * Kent * Leicestershire * Northamptonshire * Somerset * Sussex * Worcestershire