ECB has today (Thursday, 10th May) announced a wide-ranging Action Plan to work closely with Essex to transform the way cricket engages with South Asian communities and draw more players, fans and volunteers into every level of the game.
The Action Plan was launched with a series of events in three ‘core cities’ including a Chance to Shine Street Tape-ball competition at Sparkhill Park in Birmingham, a schools’ cricket competition at Bradford Park Avenue Cricket Ground in Yorkshire and a women’s and girls’ cricketing session at Leyton County Ground Sport Centre in East London.
Key elements of the plan are currently underway in Essex where Essex Cricket in the Community have been working closely with the ECB.
To develop the plan ECB conducted the largest ever UK study into cricket in South Asian communities, analysing tens of thousands of survey responses and hundreds of thousands of database records to understand how these diverse groups view cricket.
Using all of this data and insight, ECB worked with Sport England to identify ten ‘Core Cities’ where the majority (61%) of the South Asian population live: Birmingham, Bradford, Kirklees, Leeds, Leicester, London, Luton, Manchester, Sandwell and Slough. These ten areas will be the focus of the first two years of the project. Following this initial period, the plan will expand to engage to being to engage with a further 300 districts that make up the remaining 39% of the audience.
ECB also worked closely with key partners including the National Asian Cricket Councilthe British Asian Trust, cricket charity Chance to Shine and principal partner NatWest. These partners will work closely with the ECB to deliver the report’s recommendations.
The ECB Action Plan has set out 11 recommended actions which include:
- URBAN CRICKET CENTRES – The creation of 20+ new Urban Cricket Centres and the development of 1,000 non-turf pitches and 100 turf pitches by 2024;
- COMMUNITY TALENT CHAMPIONS – Piloting the implementation of ‘Community Talent Champions’ to scout talent previously missed by the scouting system;
- PRIMARY SCHOOLS – The delivery of cricket sessions to 6,000 primary schools in deprived urban communities through Chance to Shine by 2019;
- DIVERSITY IN COACHING – The adoption of the ‘Rooney Rule’ to support the progression of BAME coaches working in the professional game for all future ECB coaching roles; working with the ten ‘core cities’ to train and develop 200 female coaches;
- BURSARIES – The awarding of bursaries to talented young South Asian players.
Announcing the long-term approach, Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer said:
“Cricket is a force for good in society and our job is to ensure that it makes a positive impact on as many people’s lives as possible.
“Whilst we’ve long acknowledged the passion for the game in South Asian communities in the UK and had the best intentions, we have never fully understood how to engage with South Asian communities. This report gives us a road map to change that.
“How can we ensure the level of South Asian participation in the recreational game, often outside of our own programmes, is reflected throughout cricket? We now have a much deeper understanding of how cricket can play a part in multi-faith, multi-lingual, multi-cultural communities, whether that’s creating a match-day experience which respects everyone’s customs, renovating derelict council buildings into cricket centres in urban areas or putting the game’s talent scouts into more diverse communities.
“Ultimately, we want more people picking up a bat and ball, the best talent getting opportunities to play at the highest level and attendances which match the UK’s passion for cricket. Whilst this Action Plan is about South Asian communities, in developing it we have learnt a great deal about how to reach other communities too. Cricket has a wonderful opportunity to grow and become a sport that is truly diverse and representative of its broad fan base.”