Meet one of our This Girl Can Champions, Charlotte Burton, who is Women & Girls Development Officer for the Sussex Cricket Foundation. Charlotte helps develop women and girls’ cricket across Sussex from community, school to club level.
As part of This Girl Can Week we chatted with Charlotte to share her personal experience with physical activity growing up and why she is passionate about boosting opportunities for women and girls to engage with cricket.
What was your experience with getting active growing up?
Growing up, sport always played a huge part in my life because my dad was very much into sport and our family were either playing sport at the weekend or had it on the TV at home.
I played football and cricket for my local teams in Shoreham and was the only girl at the time, until my dad decided to set up a girls team at Adur Athletic Football Club. Football was my main passion at the time growing up, but due to a serious knee injury at 12 I had to give up football, but I was still able to play cricket and I was very fortunate that at the age of 10 I had already been selected for the Sussex girls squad and then by the age of 12 the Sussex Women, and cricket became my focus.
I would be playing sport every weekend and most evenings, I just loved how good it made me feel, and that I was able to play sport with my friends. I was not very good academically, so playing sport made me feel like I was good at something and that I could achieve something in life.
How has being active helped you throughout your life?
Being active, playing sport and coaching has done so much for me in my life. Growing up playing a team sport helped me make a lot of the friends I have now – I was always very shy at school and found it very difficult to meet or speak to people, but playing in a team environment where everyone supports one another helped me feel a part of something.
Being active has also helped with my mental health. I’ve had depression and five years ago went through an extremely bad period in my life, so I decided to join a gym, which was one of the best things I ever did. When I’m at the gym I don’t think, my brain is silent and I can just escape from everything. I know now that if I’m having a bad day, either heading to the gym or going for a walk really does help my mental health.
I want to share with other women and girls how being active has supported me and helped me become the person I am today. I hope to show other women and girls who are maybe having mental health issues, that being active can truly help you.
What inspired you to become a This Girl Can Sussex Champion?
I want to inspire more women and girls to play cricket, as there are so many more opportunities now for anyone to play it. You can play soft ball cricket for fun as well as hard ball competitive cricket – the choices are available for anyone of any age and no experience is needed.
I also want to inspire women and girls to get active and even think about getting into coaching. Hopefully by being a This Girl Can Sussex Champion I can do that, as coaching is a great way of giving back and helping others. The best part about being a cricket coach is seeing the women and girls I coach have fun and enjoying themselves and seeing them develop as players and as people. Coaching is so rewarding and anyone can do it!
Tell us about the work you’ve been doing to get more women and girls engaged with cricket in Crawley?
With the support of Active Sussex the Sussex Cricket Foundation received an initial pot of funding through the Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund, which we used for a project aimed at developing opportunities for women and girls across Crawley.
Part of the project involves us working with three established clubs to provide an extended female offering to Women and Girls both with the club already and those new to the game, from within the wide community by running a ten-week coaching programme at each club.
We are also running three women and girls soft ball cricket days at each of the three clubs to engage with more women and girls in the community to come along and give cricket a try.
Through the project we have offered taster sessions in the local primary schools to engage with some of the girls into cricket and have been working closely with Crawley Old Girls Football, Rivers and Crawley Council Development department where we will be running a couple of events later in the summer that will be community based events for women and girls across Crawley.
We are working to engage more women into leadership and coaching. We have recently run a fully subscribed Coach Education Course and plan to run a second one later in the summer.
We are also keen to take cricket to the women and girls in the local mosques, temples and other religious centres in Crawley.
How can other activity providers, clubs and coaches be more inclusive for women and girls?
Activity providers, clubs and coaches need to tailor the sessions to the needs and wants of the women and girls. The environment and the experience created for women and girls needs to be a good one so that they will come back and feel welcome. It can be the smallest of things like how they are greeted to even how clean the bathroom is at the club, especially in a male-dominated environment.
In my role I support clubs to have a representative from the women and girls section on their committees so they have equal say and are included in club decisions.
Find out more about the work Charlotte is doing to engage women and girls in cricket.
To find out more about the This Girl Can campaign visit the national website. If you would like to find out more about getting involved at a local level in Sussex visit our This Girl Can Champions webpage.