Photo Credit:: ECB
Cricket East’s initiative proves popular among youngsters in the local community.
Youngsters in some of the UK’s most under-served communities are getting the chance to keep fit and active thanks to the efforts of Cricket East and Chance to Shine Street cricket.
Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire based Cricket East has been introducing Street cricket across Luton, Peterborough and Bedford – with a recent tournament in Queens Park attracting almost 30 players.
This accessible version of cricket has been used to bring communities together and drive forward Cricket East’s ambitious inclusion policy. Street cricket is played using a tennis ball wrapped in insulation tape and is ideally suited for enclosed areas like local authority tennis and basketball courts. No expensive bats, pads, or helmets are needed.
Dave Summers, Diverse Communities Officer for Cricket East, said: “We’ve been developing these free Chance to Shine Street tapeball sessions right across the Cricket East area in a bid to bring people together. The reaction so far has been fantastic. It’s just a brilliant way for local kids to enjoy sport, meet different people and visit different places without facing all the expense of traditional cricket.”
The initiative attracted the attention of the BBC TV who filmed the tournament, and following transmission on Look East, Cricket East received enquiries from other urban areas in the region, looking to use the game as a vehicle to support community cohesion and integration.
However, the tapeball fixtures are just one part of a wider programme of activity in Queens Park supported by the whole Cricket East team.
- Queens Park Westfield CC has been supplied with a new defibrillator by the National Asian Cricket Council as part of a £200,000 nationwide campaign.
- An inspirational Youth Empowerment Programme led by local lead coach Abid Hussain has been rolled out, using sport as a vehicle to teach leadership, role modelling, and other life skills that enable young people to make positive contributions to their lives and communities. The programme has been run in conjunction with local charity ‘Faith in Queens Park’ and the Crime Commissioner’s Office of Bedfordshire Police.
- A partnership with Northamptonshire County Cricket Club is providing Queens Park volunteers, coaches, and young cricketers with regular access to match tickets – giving them the invaluable opportunity to experience first-class county environments. Two visits are planned for 2023.
- A targeted coach development programme has provided bursaries to support the professional development of 10 local coaches (including three women) with the potential to support cricket’s sustainability across the region.
Dave Summers said: “We’re incredibly proud of all the activity happening across the Cricket East area. Recently, youngsters travelled from Bedford to play counterparts in Peterborough. Cricket is making a significant and tangible impact in bringing people together and keeping people healthy – and we’ve got plenty more to deliver over the coming weeks and months.”