With so many cricketers from out west now shining in Sydney, the pathway for female stars to emerge from the regions seems clearer than ever. One person who can attest to the growth of the sport is the father of a Cricket Australia contract recipient. Andrew Litchfield, whose daughter Phoebe Litchfield developed her game on the fields in Orange, was recently witness to a feat he believed may never have been seen before. Seven girls featured in the under 14s ODJCA grand final between Cavaliers and Kinross, something Litchfield was immensely proud to see. "The significant thing for me was there were some very good cricketers both male and female, but I doubt there's ever been seven girls participate in a boys final," he said. "A lot of those girls have been playing in the Western under 14s side who made the grand final this season, so, they're used to playing with and against boys." Litchfield noted that a lot had changed since his daughter was growing up in town. "Certainly the participation levels at clubs has increased greatly over that time from when Phoebe was playing, when there were very few other girls playing in the boys competitions, which she did around Orange and Bathurst," he added. "Now, there's a lot of girls playing every weekend. Girls love being part of a team where there are other girls, but I think they enjoy competing with the boys at that level." A point driving those participation numbers is the ability for these junior girls to further their cricketing careers through representative honours. Litchfield noted how the recent Penrith first grade squad which won the NSW Premier Cricket premiership featured five women - Emma Hughes (Dubbo), Alana Ryan (Cowra), Callee Black (Bathurst), Phoebe Litchfield (Orange) and Bec Cady (Bathurst) - who came through the Western Female Academy Program. "It does show a genuine pathway," he said. "I'd really encourage a lot of the girls to play within their town competitions, especially the bigger towns which are well set up. When they get to 16 or 17, then they need to start playing some grade competition down in Sydney if they want to keep going with it, but they don't have to travel every weekend. It's important that it doesn't become a labour of love, both for the parents and players." But even if the next Phoebe Litchfield doesn't ever emerge from the Central West, her father still believes the game is set up to succeed for years to come. "The important thing is we're not just targeting the elite players, we're trying to get as many young girls involved in club cricket as possible," he said. "Out of that, some will go the representative pathway and if they don't, that's fine. It's great that they're being involved in club cricket and mixing it with the boys as well." Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.