Luff: Western Storm captaincy plays massive part to help bring in more female players

Western Storm's Sophie Luff hits out against South East Stars

Western Storm's Sophie Luff hits out against South East Stars during the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy at Beckenham Cricket Club during the 2020 season. - Credit: PA

Sophie Luff says her role as Western Storm captain will play a “massive part” in helping to “pave the way for the next generation” for more female players to play the game of cricket.

Luff was one of 41 players to sign a professional contract across the country last December, which she admits is a step in the "right direction", and will play for Welsh Fire in The Hundred, which was postponed from last year until this summer due to the coronavirus.

“The game has grown massively over the last four, five years and I think you will see a massive growth this year with the introduction of The Hundred," Luff said.

"The fact the men and the women are playing on the same platform and the fact there is a franchise where people can get behind the brand and support men and women equally, that’s a massive step forward and and hopefully it will be a positive influence on the game in this country.

“It was obviously a difficult year for everyone, the fact that we were able to play some cricket towards the back end of the summer showed to me the real investment that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have progressed and did it the right way."

Sophie Luff batting for Lympsham & Belvedere.

Sophie Luff batting for Lympsham & Belvedere against Newton in May 2018. - Credit: Mark Atherton

With women’s cricket on the rise, more females are playing than ever before.

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For Luff, who hailed Somerset legend Marcus Trescothick as one of her role models, grew up watching men’s cricket and played with boys and said it’s great to see the growth of females playing cricket compared to when she first started.

The opportunities are endless with Western Storm setting up a Regional Academy programme just for girls, where a total of 14 players were picked up from five different regions.

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And last year’s ICC Women's T20 World Cup broke so many records including the most watched women’s cricket event ever around the world.

“It’s super exciting that these days young girls can look up to the likes of Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole and know there is an actual pathway for them to progress and make a career out of the sport they love,” she added.

“I feel I've got a massive part to play in terms of the South West region and I guess my role as captain of Western Storm links quite nicely to that. I’ve always been trying to promote cricket in Somerset for a number of years now through both my roles as a performance head coach and community coach.

“It’s nice to have that, I guess young girls looking up to you and seeing that they can achieve what you have.”

Sophie Luff.

Western Storm's Sophie Luff. - Credit: Archant

International Women’s Day this week celebrated the ‘social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women’ up and down the world.

And the 27-year-old Luff feels there is a lot being done behind the scenes to ensure there is a more equal playing field and wants to continue the impact left behind by those before them, while not forgetting their sacrifices shown to build a future exclusive for everyone.

“It’s obviously fantastic to celebrate a day like that. Ultimately we want to get to stage where we don’t have to make such a big thing about it,” she said.

“I think cricket is doing some fantastic things in terms of ensuring there is more gender equality across the sport and hopefully we can lead the way in that.

“It just makes me proud to be a female athlete really and be recognised. I’ve got a responsibility as a female athlete to pave the way for the next generation and it makes you reflect on the people, and all those women who have done great things, before you. We just need to continue that legacy.”

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