Up to 2,000 South Asian females will be trained as ECB ‘Activators’ over the next four years thanks to a £1.2 million award of National Lottery money.
Our grant will help the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), who will match the funding, to equip women with the skills to deliver their All Stars Cricket programme.
The Activators – volunteers in a role designed for beginners, or those undertaking their first involvement in coaching and supporting others into an activity – will work in eight urban areas across the country.
The project will benefit up to 15,000 children aged 5-8, and is part of the ECB’s South Asian Action Plan that was launched in May and aims to transform the way cricket engages with British South Asian communities.
Attracting more women to play the game and inspiring them to be involved in the running of grassroots cricket were two of the plan’s key priorities, with our strategic lead for volunteering, Jenny Betteridge, welcoming the project.
Thanks to the ECB's South Asian Action Plan, up to 2,000 female volunteers will be recruited, benefitting up to 15,000 children
“We know that if you consistently don’t see people like you volunteering in sport and physical activity, it is very difficult to think of that sport as something for you,” she said.
“That’s why attracting those who don’t normally volunteer has the potential to change the face of community sport across the country.
“We are delighted to award National Lottery funding to this important project working alongside the British South Asian communities to inspire women to get involved and hopefully go on to become leaders in cricket.
“Not only do projects like this make volunteering and community sport more inclusive, they also directly benefit those giving their time by improving their mental and physical health, enabling them to meet new people, make friends and develop new skills.”
East London’s Leyton Cricket Club will be the first pilot venue for the new Urban Cricket Centres, before the programme is also rolled out in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Leicester and Bradford – as well as a second London location – all of which have a high South Asian population.
The announcement was made at a primary school in Leicester where former England off-spinner Graeme Swann, and his Strictly Come Dancing partner Oti Mabuse, joined women from around Leicester in a women’s cricket and Bollywood dance session.
Attracting those who don’t normally volunteer has the potential to change the face of community sport across the country
Jenny Betteridge, our strategic lead for volunteering
The 90-minute fitness session combined Bollywood dance routines with cricketing skills, before former England women’s all-rounder Isa Guha and Leicestershire community engagement officer Amna Rafiq joined Graeme, Oti and children from Coleman Primary School in an All Stars Cricket session.
“For me, growing up and getting into cricket, it wasn’t just about enjoying playing the game – which was important – it was the fact that I wanted to see women who looked like me and understood my heritage,” said Amna.
“I was fortunate that the mentors I had around me all understood my background and knew how to help develop my self-confidence and social skills.
“As a result of my own experiences, I’m incredibly passionate about this Action Plan and I know it’s already making a difference to the girls and young women that are involved in the programmes that I help run in Leicester.”
The South Asian Action Plan has already seen the installation of 64 non-turf pitches and 14 turf pitches in the 2018 Core Cities, as well as the expansion of the ECB T20 City Cup to 16 cities.