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A new youth sports initiative aimed at getting more young people from London into cricket clubs will launch at Regent's Park this Sunday (8 July).
'Wicketz' will help 1,500 youngsters from disadvantaged communities make the jump from playing soft-ball cricket to joining hard-ball cricket clubs and create new clubs where opportunities aren't currently available.
Cricket clubs provide a safe, structured environment where young people can enjoy the physical and social benefits of playing the game while learning the vital life skills that cricket uniquely teaches. However, despite increased opportunities for disadvantaged youngsters to play soft-ball cricket in their local communities, less than 5% make the transition to joining mainstream cricket clubs and playing hard-ball cricket, with access to clubs often limited.
Wicketz is the only programme in the UK to focus on transition from soft-ball to hard-ball cricket in disadvantaged areas, with community coaching sessions, in-school delivery, festivals and local competitions taking place in targeted communities across the UK. Three new junior community cricket clubs have been established in Tottenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets to increase opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK. The top teams will travel to West Sussex in August to compete in the national finals at the Arundel Castle Cricket Ground, supported by Ford.
By improving access to cricket clubs, Wicketz will help increase the independence, self-confidence, motivation and communication skills of the programme’s participants, galvanise families and empower local communities.
Women’s world cup winner, Ebony Rainford-Brent, who is heading up the programme, said: “I am really excited by the start of the new programme. It is great that The Lord’s Taverners is in a position to create opportunities and pathways for young people to progress and play hard ball cricket in disadvantaged communities.
“Growing up in Lambeth there were no clubs for me to develop my cricket, and playing in the early years was a real challenge. Barriers ranged from accessibility of cricket clubs to the cost of equipment and travel which put a real strain on my family, and I was really lucky for the support I received in the early years to get me through from many people and organisation. But not everybody was as lucky as I was to receive so much support and most around me dropped off.
“The programme is exciting because creating these opportunities on their doorsteps and providing support networks will increase the number of young people playing hard ball cricket in cricket clubs in disadvantaged communities. Hopefully we will help make cricket a sport of choice for life and provide the benefits that many of us have had from the game.”
Wicketz is the latest youth cricket initiative from The Lord’s Taverners, the official charity of recreational cricket. The programme is being run in partnership with Capital Kids, Sporting Equals, County Cricket Boards and Family Lives with support from Sport England and Berkeley.
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