Wednesday, July 17, 2024

PCA passes 750 milestone in EDI education delivery

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Photo Credit: Professional Cricketers’ Association

  • 65 LBW EDI education session delivered to counties, regions and academies
  • 784 players attended first two rounds of LBW programme
  • Sam Cook: “It’s about not being afraid to have conversations around difficult or sensitive topics”
  • Donna Fraser: “Our Inclusion Champions have that level of respect from the players”

The PCA has recently hit a landmark of surpassing EDI education delivery to 750 current professional and academy players in its tailormade ‘Learn Before Wicket’ (LBW) programme.

Players have engaged with the sessions that were developed following the request for more EDI education through PCA member surveys.

The LBW programme has been designed to empower members with the necessary skills and knowledge to embrace diversity, exercise inclusivity, promote equity and equality in their cricket environments.

Developed by the PCA’s Director of EDI, Donna Fraser, and delivered by the PCA’s Inclusion Champions, the LBW series aims to enhance understanding through open and meaningful conversations in a safe space.

The sessions are enthusiastically run by the PCA’s cohort of seven Inclusion Champions, made up of current and former cricketers; Georgia Elwiss, Nancy Harman, Gemaal Hussain, Abi Sakande, Arul Suppiah, David Thompson and Alex Tudor.

Since the start of 2023, 65 sessions have been delivered to 784 players and 161 staff across the programme with squads being able to choose from a variety of different topics including; Inclusive Language, Unconscious bias, Intersectionality, Allyship, Faith & Religion, Disability Inclusion, LGBTQ+ Inclusion with Anti-discrimination being the mandatory topic for the third session.

Coaches and support staff are also encouraged to attend so they can participate in conversations and share experiences.

Interest in the programme from the media grew, and ahead of the recent LBW session at Essex, Fraser and Inclusion Champion Abi Sakande held a session for journalists from Sky Sports News, ESPN Cricinfo, The Telegraph and Cricket Writers Club Chair Dean Wilson to help enhance their understanding of the topics.

The session was led by Sakande, who following the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 asked the PCA to form an EDI Working Group, which he now co-chairs, to try and stamp out discrimination and provide equality for future generations.

The PCA began delivering anti-racism education to every professional squad in February 2021, before the game-wide EDI Action Plan was released in December 2021.

In May 2022, the PCA announced its independent whistleblowing hotline, before the LBW programme was launched in January 2023. The next part of the LBW takes the players to the third and final stage of the programme as they partake in an anti-discrimination awareness session.

The Inclusion Champions, alongside Fraser, are currently working with AKD Solutions in developing the ‘Equally Yours’ interactive board game that will be used to further develop player’s understanding of all aspects of EDI.

PCA EDI Director, Donna Fraser, said: “During our player surveys we noticed that they wanted more EDI education and that they like those teachings to come from people that understand their cricket environment, hence why we devised the programme with the Inclusion Champions.

“Our Inclusion Champions understand the conversations and they have that level of respect from the players, listening to Abi and the others is inspiring.

“This was Essex’s second session and we had the support staff there as well which was beneficial because this isn’t just a player issue, we want them to engage with the players because they are a big part of the culture of the dressing room.”

PCA Essex Rep, Sam Cook, said: “It was a great, interactive session. Hearing from Abi (Sakande) who has played the game made it a lot more meaningful and the guys were really engaged, it was great to build on the session we had previously.

“My understanding of allyship increased from the start of the session, it’s a term that you think you’re familiar with but understanding the vulnerabilities and some of those marginalised groups in a cricket setting definitely helped.

“These behaviours becoming unconscious is something that we’ve done really well since I’ve been at Essex. It’s about not being afraid to have conversations around difficult or sensitive topics because that person could be crying out for that support.”

PCA Inclusion Champion, Abi Sakande, said: “We went through sets of examples and talked more generally about the benefits of an inclusive culture and how that can benefit performance. The players contributed their own examples around what allyship means and what the positive outcomes can be.

“The more inclusive the environment, the better people will perform, you play with more freedom if you feel included in a squad. The tricky part is how you create that inclusive environment – giving the coaches and the players those practical tools.

“We’ve created a space where they have a chance to ask those difficult questions and share their experiences with each other. Controversial questions arise too and they can ask what they should be doing but not just from me but from members of their team too.”

To find out more about the PCA’s EDI education click here.

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