There is a critical need in Fiji for opportunities that build social and emotional competencies and promote gender equity and rights for children and young people - especially girls and young women.
In response, the Cricket for Good (Fiji) program provides a safe, inclusive and structured learning environment to equip children (aged 11-16) and young people (aged 17-30) to overcome challenges, develop peer support networks, and drive change to promote gender equality and the elimination of violence in their communities.
The program is delivered through a partnership between Cricket Fiji and ChildFund Australia.
Cricket for Good (Fiji) uses a unique, integrated cricket and like skills curricula, which capitalises on ChildFund’s existing, evidence-based sport for development model that has consistently achieved positive development outcomes for young people around the world. An external evaluation found this model to be ‘amongst some of the best in the world for connecting sport and development outcomes.’
An essential component of the model is the training and ongoing support for community-based youth coaches, which ensures sessions are delivered in relevant languages and life skills learning is contextually and culturally relevant to children’s lived experiences. Coaches are provided training and are accredited and mentored to deliver the Cricket for Good (Fiji) curriculum to children (11-16 years, at least 50 per cent female) involving cricket-relevant experiential life skills education, cricket coaching and officiating, safeguarding, first aid, data collection and event management.
With at least 50 per cent of the coaches being female in roles and in a sport currently dominated by males in Fiji, the program has an explicit focus on creating opportunities for positive role models to lead by example and to challenge accepted, negative gender stereotypes. External evaluations have found this model’s ‘commitment to gender equity is one of the most authentic and far reaching in mixed gender sport for development activities’; and the model’s ‘change to deep and invisible gender norms in communities is significant and hard-won’’.
As highlighted by a 14-year-old female Cricket for Good participant: ‘It’s not easy for women to be leaders — some people say you are a woman, you cannot be a leader, just watch and let the boys do it. But I [now] think I have the skills to be a leader. A good leader should encourage people, advise them on what is good and bad, have good behaviour, be kind to others and help them’.
The program is adapted from, and informed by, evidence and learnings from the Cricket for Good pilot in Papua New Guinea, designed by ChildFund in collaboration with Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council and implemented through Cricket PNG.
With ChildFund’s support, Cricket Fiji is developing safeguarding standards and practices in line with the International Safeguarding Children in Sport guidelines to ensure children and vulnerable adults are physically and emotionally safe while participating in Cricket Fiji activities beyond the life of the program.