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UMPIRES Yvonne Dolphin-Cooper (pictured left) and Anna Harris are hoping their time in the spotlight will help inspire more girls and women to become involved with cricket, on and off the pitch.

The pair are set to make history when they stand together on Saturday in the West of England Premier League clash between Downend and Bedminster, as well as a South Wales Premier League match between St Fagans and Pontarddulais the following weekend.

It is thought to be the first time in English and Welsh cricket that two women have officiated together at a level that consistently features county professionals.

And both are keen to be role models at a time when the number of girls and women taking an interest in cricket is rapidly increasing.

Yvonne, from Weston-super-Mare, inherited her love of the sport from her mother Pat, who was a wicketkeeper, while an uncle, Barry Flick, also kept wicket for Warwickshire.

The 64-year-old said: “Mum gave me so much encouragement. I played very badly but I’ve always loved cricket and now live and breathe it. It helps that my husband Roger is very understanding!

“Through umpiring, I see the astonishing talent that is coming through in the women’s game and it’s great to now be breaking through the glass ceiling.

“I want to encourage as many women as possible to umpire … we’re here so why can’t other people do the same?”

Anna, 22, is a second year medical student in Cardiff who also plays for Wales as a batsman along with somehow finding the hours to umpire.

She said: “You can always make time for your passions! I like to cram in as much as I can and I’m really looking forward to umpiring these matches with Yvonne.

“We’ve known each other for a long time and have the same passion for cricket. Yvonne has umpired me several times and when we’re fielding I like to get to square leg so we can have a chat and share some banter.

“It’s great that we can now together umpire these two games.”

Laura Charles-Price, the Gloucestershire Cricket Board’s Women’s and Girls’ Development Officer, said: “I’m so happy to see what Yvonne and Anna are doing, and it can only help encourage more girls and women into cricket.

“It might be to play, to score, to umpire … or even become a development officer! Years ago I never thought I would have a full-time job doing this yet here I am.”

Girls aged from 14-17 interested in taking the first steps towards coaching, umpiring or officiating, have the chance to sign up for a one-day introductory course.

Western Storm, the women’s cricket team representing south west England and Wales, have devised the Young Storm Champions programme which will be run in June at centres in Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall.

For details, visit: https://westernstorm.co.uk/news/become-a-young-storm-champion/

The GCB are also planning to host a girls only officials course later in the year.

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