THE COACH behind developing a new girls cricket section at Tavistock has admitted the motivation behind his success was his young daughter. Steve Cox and Tavistock Cricket Club have now set up a thriving girls’ section with the support of local sponsors and the Devon Cricket Foundation (DCF).

The project began last year with a crucial event – the festival of cricket called Colour Me Cricket. From only handful of keen youngsters initially, the club now has a regular Sunday girls cricket session (led by player Sarah Field) and two teams the U-13 and U-11 in the Devon Cricket Softball League. It has helped that the club also has its first women’s team to ride the wave of enthusiasm fuelled by international women’s cricket.

“It all started with conversations with Ann-Marie Presswell, Women & Girls’ Development Officer from Devon Cricket about how we would bring about the women and girls’ set up at the club,” said Steve Cox.

The Colour Me Cricket festival, organised by DCF at the end of the cricket season gives clubs growing their girls’ sections a first taste of cricket in a relaxed and fun environment. Steve said: “Through friends and some of the girls who played at the club we got a team together. Everyone enjoyed themselves and we just thought: let’s try and keep it going.”

With only a few committed girls, the club offered give-it-a-go winter camps and got 21 signups, with only seven or eight being players we already knew about. He now has 16 regulars at Sunday sessions.

Steve said: “A major factor behind my drive to develop the girls’ side comes from wanting to see further cricketing opportunities for my daughter Jasmine. She’s gone through our All Stars and Dynamos, and we have some girls in those, but now that she’s in the Hardball Under 11 team she’s the only girl. Those of us who love cricket know it’s a game for everyone. I thought: it can’t just be me, she can’t just be here because she’s my daughter; there must be other girls that want to play. I don’t think setting up a girls’ side would have been possible until the exposure around the women’s game: the England team and The Hundred.”

He plans to take the girls, newly self-named the Tavistock Falcons, to see England at Somerset later this year to see some role models.

Coach Sarah Field, was initially involved at the mixed (though mostly male) All Stars and Dynamos sessions: “My son started doing All Stars and my daughter was in Dynamos at that point and I said to Steve I would help out. I did that for three years. I’ve got the bug now. I played with the ladies’ team and I love being part of the girls’ team. It’s fantastic. Seeing all the progression and joy they get from it is absolutely fantastic. Seeing girls’ cricket in Tavistock from nothing to really quite a busy cricket scene is fantastic.”

Steve added the next step for the girls’ section at the club is to start entering competitions: “We’re going to compete in the Devon Cricket Softball League and have fun, that’s the ambition.”

Ann-Marie, of DCF said: “Steve has been the driving force behind the development of the girls’ section at Tavistock and his hard work and determination have shone through. When there is so much competition for girls’ sport over the winter, it is difficult to keep girls’ interested in cricket, but that is not the case here at Tavistock. This is testament to coaches who have set up a positive and nurturing environment for the girls, so they keep coming back.”