A review of our Wicketz programme in 2017
This year has been hugely successful for our expanding Wicketz programme, with 2017 seeing the biggest growth in the project to date by far. Seven new hubs have been formed, in Birmingham, Bradford/Leeds, Bristol, Glasgow, Leyton, Manchester and Plymouth, more than doubling the existing number and taking the total to 13. There has been significant growth in new participants, with the total unique participants up 66%, also in the number of coaching sessions delivered which is up 77%. This growth has led to a permanent national Wicketz manager being appointed at head office, whilst 5 new full-time Development Officers have been hired in Birmingham, Bradford/Leeds, Bristol, Manchester and Plymouth.
There were many highlights this year including a visit to the hub in Redditch from Sir Courtney Walsh, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Richie Richardson and Sir Andy Roberts - the four Antiguan Knights. Our festival at Felsted School saw nearly 100 young people from eight different projects attend, not just to play cricket but also to benefit from coaching from former international players as well as taking part in workshops on leadership, street aid and crime prevention. It was fantastic to welcome England and Lancashire batsman Haseeb Hameed to the newly formed Manchester hub in October, and to have our first ever inter-hub match played outside of London between the Birmingham and Luton hubs at Leamington Spa CC.
We have also seen increased collaborations with local emergency services as we look to tackle social cohesion in the local communities, as part of the programme. Local police forces have not only delivered workshops on issues such as gang culture and hate crime, but have been actively involved in coaching the young people, seeing a remarkable change in the attitudes shown to them and levels of respect. Anwaar Mohammed, a police officer in Redditch who has been coaching at Wicketz said, “I wish all forces had something like this, getting to know people and the community makes our job so much easier. I would love to bring this programme to many different places.”
Using cricket as a tool for change, Wicketz is aimed at hard to reach youngsters within areas of high deprivation across the UK, by engaging young people who live in communities where there are few opportunities to play the game regularly. We provide a sustainable cricket environment with a focus on social cohesion and developing crucial life skills such as tolerance, respect, teamwork and self-confidence alongside weekly cricket activity. The Lord’s Taverners now successfully deliver the programme in the aforementioned seven hubs, in addition to Crawley, Hartlepool, Luton, Nottingham, Tower Hamlets and West Ham.
Case Study: Haris Sahi (Bristol)
When Haris first came to Wicketz he had never played cricket before, but within a year he has shown significant improvement. He joined us when he was in year 6 and was very anxious about moving on to secondary school. He has since moved up and is getting on well, which his mother believes is due to the increased self-confidence that she has seen in him since joining Wicketz. Bristol Wicketz Development Officer, Crispin Shingler said, “We saw the positive impact the Wicketz Festival had on Haris as he took on the responsibility of taking care of his younger brother, as this was both the boys’ first time away from home.”
Haris recently captained his team at the first inter-Wicketz Bristol match where he rose to the challenge of being the leader. He was always the first to congratulate his teammates on their successes and encourage them when things did not go their way. Haris said: “I was a bit nervous about playing hardball with the older boys from Tower Hamlets, but they were really great, really nice to us, and I learned a lot from them. My best moment was when I made a difficult catch and the whole team gathered round giving me high fives- I felt so good, like I could do anything!”