A cricket club has ditched their all-white kit for black in a bid to encourage more girls who may worry about their periods to play the sport.
Lewes Priory Cricket Club changed the kit colour for both male and female junior players – in a move to make the sport more inclusive, as girls who are menstruating may not want to wear light colours.
The 300-player club made the dramatic break from tradition so that no girl will ever have to worry about wearing whites when they have their period and to make them feel more part of the team, its club chair revealed.
Girls playing cricket at the club in East Sussex are as young as nine years old, which is around the average age they begin to go through puberty and start their period.
Lewes Priory, which has been playing cricket for over 200 years, said that that 40 per cent of their junior players are female.
Lewes Priory U12s pictured in their new coloured kits. The cricket club based in Sussex made the move for all junior teams to wear black instead of white, in a bid to make the sport more inclusive to young girls and women.
England cricket captain Heather Knight (pictured centre, wearing a dark kit) helped the team win their first World Cup game in March
The uniform changes were brought in earlier this year in April, at the start of the current season.
Cricket club chair Kevin Ives said that the move has been ‘incredibly popular’ and both boys and girls in their junior squads have embraced the change.
With a young daughter himself, Mr Ives said the club are trying to make any simple changes to remove the barriers for girls playing cricket.
And he said that the only team that is yet to switch is the men’s senior team – but changing their kit from white to black is currently a ‘work in progress.’
Lewes Priory’s senior women’s team currently play in a black kit.
Club chair Mr Ives told MailOnline: ‘My daughter is 10 years old, and she plays a lot of cricket. Awareness of periods around that age is rising. They’re worried about their periods, it’s a bit like what’s being talked about surrounding Wimbledon at the moment.
‘The change was the simplest thing really, we’ll make no distinction between boys and girls. To be honest, the kids like the coloured kits. It gives them a better feeling of being in a team when everyone’s wearing the same stuff.
‘It’s been incredibly popular across the club. Everybody likes it, boys and girls. It just removes any barrier for girls playing cricket, and it seems so simple. A good and simple change.
‘What we haven’t done yet is change the senior men’s team, they are still in white, but that’s a work in progress.’
The chairman added that they also bought new kit for the teams that can be rotated at games – so that parents wouldn’t have to splash the cash on new uniforms.
One father, responding to the update online, said that he wants his five-year-old daughter to one day take up cricket – and that Lewes Priory’s initiative is ‘simple and effective’ in making the sport more inclusive for women.
As well as the colour change, Mr Ives said there are free sanitary products in toilets because most cricket clubs run by men ‘have never even thought about these things.’
He added that the male-dominated sport ought to have more conversations about women and girls in a bid to keep them playing – which is his ultimate goal.
Previously, of the seven junior teams, mixed and male squads would wear white, with the female teams wearing black.
But this was something deemed ‘unfair’ as girls and women would have to buy and switch between two sets of kit – and they would ‘stand out’ when playing on the field with their male teammates.
Heather Knight (pictured) hits out during the 1st One Day International match between England and New Zealand at Bristol County Ground in September 2021
England’s Freya Kemp (pictured in coloured kit) celebrates after bowling out Anneke Bosch of South Africa during the T20 Tour Match in Cardiff, Wales
Mr Ives added: ‘The parents have all been really supportive. We offered the ability to buy them, but we also bought a set for each team as well so people didn’t need to invest more money and we can hand it out on the day.
‘With girls, the difficult bit is getting them to move from softball to hardball cricket, because that’s when they’ve got a lot of stuff going on in their lives at the time, when they’re 10 or 11 years old. So anything that makes them feel more included, more part of the club, we will do.
‘We’ve also got free sanitary products in the toilets. It’s little things like that that make it just make it easy for people.
‘We played one of our opposition in a mixed team that had a girl in it. There were 10 boys in white, and one girl in coloured clothes. Just imagine how that girl must feel, standing out.
‘The interesting thing for me is most of these clubs are run by men. Most people have never even thought about these things, they aren’t talking about periods in committee meetings.
‘They haven’t considered for one moment about period stains coming out in your clothes. The worry for me, is that if we’re not having those conversations, then we’re unlikely to think there’s a need to do things like this.
‘I hope it becomes commonplace. There’s a real chance it might take off. There are lots of people out there that see people wearing white as tradition, they don’t want to move away from tradition, but there are a lot more people who just want people to play cricket and enjoy.’
Sponsor of the new kit Dr Zoe Young from Half the Sky said: ‘I am delighted Half the Sky is sponsoring the new kit.
‘We help organisations put inclusion and equality at the heart of their cultures and we know from the work we do those small practical changes can have a huge impact. This is such a positive move by the club.’
Matt Parsons, Sussex county coach and territory manager, said: ‘It’s great to see a community club in Sussex to switch kit so the club is inclusive. It shows that clubs can shape the way they do things.’
Charlotte Burton, cricket development officer with Sussex Cricket, said: ‘We know grassroots cricket is where we will find the cricket stars of the future. Top flight female players are being more open about the barriers they face getting to where they are. This positive action sends a very important message.’