Source: ICC

ICC delivers successful Women’s Health Workshop for coaches

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This is also the first ICC event where sanitary products have been made available in all the dressing rooms, an initiative that has received positive feedback from teams

The International Cricket Council (ICC) organised a first of its kind Women’s Health Workshop for coaches on the sidelines of the ongoing ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in Abu Dhabi earlier this week.

The Women’s Health Workshop is a continuation of the work done by the ICC over the course of 2023, where women’s health education sessions were delivered to players and staff at both global women’s events and five women’s pathway events.

The ICC invited the coaches of all 10 participating teams for the workshop and most of the teams responded enthusiastically, bringing their entire staff complement. In the end, more than 50 people across the 10 teams were in attendance.

The session was centred around hearing from the coaches about the challenges they face in the space of women’s health while working with women’s teams, such as having open conversations with athletes about their menstrual health, and how the ICC can support these.

Staff also shared best practices from their own countries with the wider group. The ICC facilitated conversation around creating environments where these conversations can take place openly, keeping in mind cultural, religious, and country-wise sensitivities.

ICC Medical and Anti-Doping Manager, Vanessa Hobkirk said: “It was fantastic to see such an encouraging response from support staff, especially from coaches most of whom are male, on a topic as important menstrual health. Their willingness to engage in open discussions and learn more about how it impacts the athletes they work with is commendable.

“It is a significant step forward in creating a supportive environment within cricket. By incorporating their insights, the ICC can develop a more effective support system for coaches across its membership, ensuring that women’s health is appropriately addressed.”

Team Manager Ireland, Beth Healy said:  “The more the people are involved in these conversations at this level of cricket, the better. When you have got more awareness, you have more knowledge and you can share the knowledge and have conversations which are considered taboo. The workshop certainly opened my eyes, coming from Ireland we are more liberal and open and have conversations with the senior team if they want to opt in or opt out of the study around their cycles.

“It is good to see that the ICC is doing something about women’s heath which is very important. It has to continue for sure, when you start something like this it becomes a bit of a momentum thing, sometimes you may not have the build, once the momentum is gained [cricket playing] countries will become onboard and it should become a norm, you have to break down those barriers. I believe the member boards at the top-level CEOs etc have to drive those conversations and have the relevant polices in place.

“Pakistan, have been monumental in putting in a parental policy for one of the players [Bismah Maroof] who had a child and then returned to cricket, it is a good example for other boards to look into and bring it on board.”

Head Coach Netherlands, Neil MacRae said: “The workshop that the ICC put on provided a huge amount of very valuable information as firstly in terms of women’s health that is a huge area cricket and sports and very much related and relevant to their performances, we certainly learnt a huge amount and there is plenty to learn and explore while taking our team forward in the next few months.

“Some of the things we learned and the way the information was delivered was cutting edge and it was exciting to be at a forum where these things were available. There is definitely room for more discussions and forums like these will certainly help going forward in the years to come. The forum was very interactive and it was great to see how the male and female coaches discussed various aspects and discussed ideas and there was certainly a lot to learn which was the whole point of the session.”

Head Coach Sri Lanka, Rumesh Ratnayake said: “It was a fantastic awareness workshop that the ICC arranged, it was an eyeopener for a lot of us and we [participants] had an in-depth chat afterwards. As part of the staff, we must know the various intricacies especially around menstrual health and challenges that the players face. It is very important that we give the players the confidence and the comfort to divulge details around their health and wellbeing.

“The awareness needs to spread across all countries, I hope the ICC can initiate a programme that all Members can follow and implement across their setups, as coaches and support staff, we are often not aware of why players are reluctant to take ice baths, practice or play, once the understanding is achieved, the players can be a lot more comfortable and that needs to be the ultimate goal. Once we have the communication gap bridged, so much can be sorted.”

Head Coach UAE, Ahmad Raza said: “The workshop was really good; the forum helped us understand how a women’s cycle work and how the players react to it. The best thing about the forum was that all the teams took full participation and remained fully involved especially with both male and female representation form the teams’ support staff. I personally got to learn a lot of things from how various cricket teams and players keep a track of players’ [menstrual] cycles and what they are comfortable doing while they are on their cycles.

“Female health especially their menstrual cycles still remains a bit of a taboo subject for many societies especially from where our team comes from, most of the players are from the subcontinent and are very young and can be a bit hesitant talking about certain things especially with a male head coach.

“I think it is important to have female representation in teams’ support staff so that the players can approach them comfortably, yet it is equally important that the male staffers make it a safe environment where female coaches can come up to male coaches and describe how they are feeling and get all the support they need. It was a great idea to have an open discussion, I really feel that the forum was hugely beneficial.”

Meanwhile, the ongoing tournament is the first ICC event where sanitary products have been made available in all the team dressing rooms, an initiative that has received positive feedback from team support staff. The initiative will continue in this year’s ICC Women’s T20 World Cup which will be played in Bangladesh.

With thanks to the ICC

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