CRICKET’S governing body has said a self-imposed deadline to introduce new LGBTI-friendly policies by this August was, “in hindsight,” too ambitious and it was instead working to a “revised deadline” of the new year.

The comments come as Cricket Australia this week begins to roll out a new training resource to encourage engagement with minority groups including the LGBTI community.

The peak body said it was aiming to hold 100 “sport for all” workshops with clubs across Australia in 2015 and would release a beefed-up LGBTI inclusion policy, most likely in January.

On Sunday Cricket Australia also hosted officials and players involved in August’s Bingham Cup gay rugby union world tournament to the one-day international between Australia and South Africa in Sydney.

Cricket Australia’s community engagement senior manager Sam Almaliki told the Star Observer the sport’s new diversity and inclusion initiatives aimed “to educate cricket’s entire workforce particularly at the club and grassroots level to deliver the message of inclusion”.

Along with Cricket Australia’s existing policies we will continue to embed the message of zero tolerance of homophobic behaviour,” he said.

One of the measures will be a requirement for all staff to pass an online diversity and inclusion assessment.

In April, Cricket Australia – along with the AFL, NRL, Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Australian Rugby Union – signed up to the Bingham Cup-led Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework committing the codes to implementing new LGBTI-friendly policies.

Southern Stars’ vice captain Alex Blackwell attended the signing while Australian international cricketers Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris appeared in an anti-homophobia video.

On its website at the time, Cricket Australia stated: “The relevant policies will be created by the end of August to coincide with the Bingham Cup.”

However, an investigation by the Star Observer found cricket and soccer failed to meet this deadline.

Last week, the FFA said it had now begun to roll out an LGBTI inclusion program for soccer staff, players and clubs.

Asked if the original August deadline was too ambitious for cricket to meet, Almaliki told the Star Observer: “Perhaps, in hindsight.”

However, he defended the delay.

We’ve put a lot of energy into this, it’s not about ticking boxes,” he said.

“It’s not just about meeting a deadline but our focus is to stamp homophobic behaviour out on and off the field.

“We will meet the requirements of the framework… but the more important thing is how we engage our diverse participants and make everyone feel welcome.”

Almaliki added that Cricket Australia was working to a “revised timeline of February as set by the Bingham Cup and the Australian Sports Commission”.

Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 president Andrew Purchas said the creation of a “stretch goal” of August was important and noted rugby union did meet the initial deadline.

The codes did have something like nine months to meet the deadline; I don’t think the initial goal was that much of a stretch,” he said.

But I think what’s important is the progress that has been made and they’ve taken it seriously.”

Among the original signatories, Purchas said the Bingham Cup had held discussions with the peak bodies representing rugby union, cricket, soccer and the AFL and the subsequent moves made to include the LGBTI community in the sports had been “excellent”.

(Main photo: Ann-Marie Calihanna; Star Observer)

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