Participation Test: All Stars Cricket and Women's Softball proving a hit!
"All Stars Cricket is the perfect project to get kids and parents involved," says Michael Vaughan.
Last Updated: 02/06/18 12:15pm
There's never been a better time to try All Stars Cricket or Women's Softball!
The ECB initiatives have proved a hit in terms of introducing more people to cricket - click on the video above to find out why, then visit the official All Stars Cricket and Women's Soft Ball pages for more information.
Just under 55,000 children have now signed up to All Stars Cricket, which aims to give five to eight-year-old's a first experience of the game at their local club, while around 900 Women's Soft Ball Festivals will take place nationwide this year.
Speaking at the launch of the second edition of All Stars Cricket, former England captain Michael Vaughan said: "Last year was a great success - over 37,000 signed up and 2,000 clubs in the UK.
"Five to eight is the key period to get kids active and involved and knowing about the game of cricket."
The initiative has proved hugely successful in an era where sport is jostling for attention.
"This is the hardest era in getting any kids involved in any sport because there are so many opportunities, there are so many other options," reflected Vaughan.
"Technology is now a fierce competitor for all our time, but particularly kids; e-gaming is getting bigger and bigger. Who'd have thought that 10-15 years ago?
"This is the perfect project to get kids and parents involved but it's got to keep growing every single year."
Current England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan says the initiative is crucial in helping children develop a range of skills.
"If you can get children involved from a young age they develop great social skills; it creates a little bit of discipline throughout the games and respect towards their coaches and the game itself. I think cricket is a great vehicle for that."
Another ECB grassroots initiative that has launched in England and Wales is the Women's Softball Cricket Festival which is aimed at women of all abilities, including those new to cricket.
Earlier this year our cameras dropped in to Copley Cricket Club, in Halifax, to find out more about just how easy it is to get involved and play.
Amelia Beherns, women's softball co-ordinator, explained: "Thousands of women gave it a go last year. That's why we've gone bigger and better than last year.
"The format is quite relaxed and informal; the majority of festivals this year will be eight-a-side so you get a certain amount of overs and you lose five runs for a wicket, so if you get out you don't have to head back to the pavilion."
Alex Murphy, Community Cricket Officer, said the 15 tournaments happening across Yorkshire - and 900 nationwide - proves the potential of the initiative is being fulfilled.
"It's a mixture of women and a few girls; they might have played at school or festivals before. There are also teams who have brought some friends that have never played before, so they might start joining the hard-ball team if they get the bug and start enjoying it."
Watch the video above to learn more about All Stars Cricket and Women's Softball - and watch continued coverage of The Participation Test on Sky Sports Cricket as we look at participation, growth and inclusion in grassroots cricket.
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