More than 1,000 youngsters in Sutton have been provided with impactful and meaningful cricket experiences thanks to the ECB’s Park Champions programme, supported by London Sport.
The ECB Park Champions programme uses cricket to engage under-privileged and under-represented groups with 61% of participants being female and 66% Muslim.
Park Champions has engaged more than 1,100 children in 2022 with 100% agreeing that the programme made cricket more accessible to them and 98% planning to continue being active.
London Sport supported the ECB to find a non-traditional cricket space, suitable for their priority audience, at David Weir Leisure Centre an under-utilised facility within Sutton, South London.
As well as identifying a suitable location, London Sport also invited partners, including The Hundred and Dynamos Cricket, to support the planning and delivery of the schools event.
From-skill based drills to full-sized matches, the girls in attendance discovered how beneficial sport and cricket can be, improving mental and physical health whilst also having fun with their friends.
Participant 1, said: “It was really fun, we did so many different activities and I also learnt a lot in the process.”
Participant 2, added: “I didn’t have much experience in cricket before today but after this event, I will definitely be playing cricket again.”
The programme aims to keep as many of the girls engaged in cricket with plans in place for regular after-school sessions at the David Weir Leisure Centre beginning in June 2022.
Relationship Manager for Sutton, David Gentles, said:
“We’re trying to activate girls who are underrepresented in sport generally and allowing them to enjoy themselves in the process.”
“The key now is to ensure that these girls come away from this with the urge to play more cricket.”
“This type of partnership demonstrates the unique role that London Sport has in using the excellent network of organisations in the sport and physical activity sector, to connect to national governing body priorities such as those of the ECB, in making real change in parts of London.”
ECB London Park Champion Coordinator, Sabah Hamed, added:
“We want to give the girls a safe space where they can be themselves, whilst providing a long-term pathway into participation.”
“We will be holding regular after-school cricket sessions for the girls. We don’t want this to be a short-term programme of 6-8 weeks, we want to have a long-lasting impact of 12 months plus.”