The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation want to inspire every generation and community to get involved with cricket and fulfil their potential. By bringing our youth community programmes together, we can take steps to develop young people, provide new opportunities, and improve lives through the power of cricket.
Cricket has the power to improve lives. The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation believe cricket is uniquely placed to bring communities together, inspire lifelong friendships, improve wellbeing, and deliver social impact. Our community programmes did just that during the Easter holidays.
The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation would not have such a wealth of free community cricket if it wasn’t for our community partners; the ACE Programme Charity, Chance to Shine, and the Lord’s Taverners. Through these partnerships, we have been able to deliver cricket right in the heart of communities which is free for young people to take part. This has allowed us to make the game more accessible to people who may not have been able to access the sport for a variety of reasons such as cost, transport, health, and/or mental wellbeing reasons.
The ACE Programme Charity aims to build grassroots cricket programmes, develop talent pathways and talent ID systems in targeted black communities and cities across the UK. In Bristol, ACE has free community hubs for young people aged 8 – 16 in Lockleaze, St. Paul’s, and Easton, and a training academy, which is also free and supported by the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club at the Seat Unique Stadium, which recently celebrated seeing nine graduates being selected onto county pathways, with six young cricketers being taken into Gloucestershire age group squads.
There are eight Street hubs, which are supported by Chance to Shine, that provide free cricket to young people as young as six years old, with three in Easton, two in Gloucester, and one in Shirehampton, Hengrove, and Cheltenham. As well as supporting the free Street hubs, Chance to Shine also support our school delivery, which saw us in 175 mainstream schools last academic year across the county and Bristol, thanks to their support.
The Lord’s Taverners support our community offer through Wicketz and provide free cricket for young people with disabilities through Super 1s, SEND school delivery, and Table Cricket. There are four Wicketz hubs in Bristol at Southmead, Knowle, Hartcliffe, and Hillfields, with a fifth one planned to be launched for the next academic year.
The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation have always brought our community programmes together during the school holidays for cricket festivals and friendly competition. Here we have seen social cohesion in action with young people learning from each other about their communities, culture, and forming new bonds of friendship.
Steve Silk, Chief Executive of the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation said:
“Our partnerships with ACE, Chance to Shine, and the Lord’s Taverners means the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation can take the game to more people and engage new and diverse groups. We are now supporting more communities than ever with cricket, with more people being active and reaping the health and mental wellbeing benefits the game offers. Events such as this allow us to use cricket as a powerful platform to bring communities together and break down social barriers and I am very excited about the community activity our programmes are providing over the summer.”
Over the Easter break, ACE, Street, and Wicketz Bristol hubs came together at City Academy where 36 participants were selected to represent their community hub in a friendly competition. Before the games started, there was an ice breaker for people to get to know each other through fact finding and warmup games.
It was then down to business with the Countdown Cricket Competition. Each team displayed some strong skills with both bat and ball, as well as demonstrating courageous fielding. Play was paused for lunch where the young players tucked into their packed lunches and were treated to ice creams courtesy of the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation. Once they had gained their sustenance, it was straight back into the competition, which saw an extremely close ACE / Wicketz final, with ACE being victorious.
The day saw a visit from our funding partners Chance to Shine and the Lord’s Taverners, which included their Chief Executive Mark Curtin who said:
“It was great to spend the day in Bristol with our partners from the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation, Chance to Shine, and the ACE Programme. To see young people from so many different backgrounds and communities come together through Wicketz, Chance to Shine Street, and ACE while competing, learning key life skills, and making friends in an inclusive setting, was a brilliant showcase of the important work all three charities do in conjunction with county boards/foundations across the UK.
“There are so many more young people in our communities who would benefit from being involved in cricket and by working together, we can have a significant impact on the accessibility of the sport and all the personal development opportunities being involved with the game brings.”
It is often said on cricket pitches across the globe “Cricket is the winner”, and that is certainly true of community cricket.
Cricket has encouraged young people to engage with their communities. Cricket has provided a routine. Cricket is what brought some of these young people out of their shells. Cricket has been the catalyst for several friendships to flourish. Cricket has boosted confidence. Cricket is what brought these young people from across Bristol together. Cricket has provided fond memories.
Community cricket is definitely the winner.