The rise of the Ringwood Rams women’s cricket team has been nothing short of remarkable, and now they’ll be able to take their game to another level.
In the heart of Ringwood, a local cricket club with a rich history has undergone an incredible transformation, thanks to the relentless support of its leaders and new facilities at their home ground.
‘It’s one of those clubs that’s known in the community for producing and championing the cause for players to play higher, and I wanted that for women and girls,’ says Ringwood Rams Vice President and First XI Cap #1, Tamara Bourke.
Since its founding in 1901, the Ringwood community has seen incredible success for its men’s teams, and over the past decade, the legacy has extended to encompass a women’s team for the club as well.
In 2011/12, the Ringwood Rams women’s team stepped onto the pitch for their inaugural season. Since then, the Rams have been building on the club’s tradition of supporting its players to achieve their best and focusing on progress for the next generation of cricketers.
To set them up for success, the Victorian Government has invested more than $3 million in the new RO Spencer Pavilion, as well as the Maroondah Edge Indoor Cricket Training Centre at Jubilee Park.
‘It’s really pleasing to see that the hard work we’ve put in over the last 10 years supporting women and girls' cricket be recognised by Maroondah City Council and the State Government to invest in new facilities here at Jubilee Park,’ says Tamara.
The state-of-the-art venue has been a game changer for the club, giving Melbourne’s outer east a brand-new home base for premier and grassroots community cricket.
‘Previously we had facilities that weren't up to training standard for cricket, but now they are world class.
‘The upgrades allow our men’s and women’s teams to train together, creating a fully integrated program both on and off the field.’
The State Government’s support has also extended to the oval’s lighting, upgrading them to be Cricket Australia standard.
‘Late last year, we hosted a double header against Dandenong, with the men playing in the afternoon and the women at night under the lights,’ she says.
‘In the lead up to the game, the players could train with lights on which provided the closest thing to match like conditions.’
The facilities have also contributed to the club’s journey towards inclusivity and fostering a female friendly environment.
The club was a part of the Gender Equality in Victorian Sport and Recreation Pilot Program to support the development of an equitable governance model for the redesign of the venue.
‘It gave us a chance to reflect on our club and work out where we were going really well with gender equity and the things that we could improve upon,’ says Tamara.
‘We’ve turned Jubilee Park into a hub for women’s cricket. And that happened by including us in the conversation; from our uniforms, to schedules, coach appointments, equal representation on social media, anything to do with our cricket, the governance model ensured we were involved.
‘This approach demonstrated to the broader membership that we were serious about this,’ she says.
‘In our early strategy this was all a pipe dream, now with the way we do things, it’s just business as usual.’
The club’s commitment to inclusivity goes beyond physical infrastructure as they’ve strived to create a safe and welcoming space where everyone can be themselves.
‘We've put a lot of effort into enabling people to be who they are. We talk about being part of the ‘Ramily’ and that’s why it’s so important we’ve created a safe space for our players to feel supported.’
Tamara highlights the importance of strong role models in achieving this, like Melbourne Stars all-rounder Tess Flintoff.
‘She’s a Ringwood girl, so it’s heartening to see her play on TV and know she’s got a cap here. It shows that girls that play here can be like Tess.’
Her journey serves as a testament to the impact of having such a positive club culture and the best facilities.
‘The outcomes aren't always about cricket. It's about leadership, having respect, and being able to be who you are,’ says Tamara.
‘I want to make sure the next generation is supported to play cricket and have a great time doing it. They deserve to have what the boys have had for over 100 years.’