Wicketz festival of cricket in Luton
Over 100 young people, from Luton Wicketz hubs came together for the biggest inter-hub cricket festival in Wicketz history last week. Teams from the Farley Hill, High Town, Lutonian CC, Luton Town and Indians CC, Luton Caribbean CC and Hart Hill hubs all played together on a day of competitive cricket at Denbigh High School.
The festival was a fantastic celebration of Luton's diverse ethnic communities coming together for a day of fun, with 19 different ethnicities, nationalities and faiths represented.
The morning comprised of a six-team round robin tournament for the younger participants, aged 8-11, with the older boys and girls helping out with umpiring, scoring and coaching. Each team had a parent or volunteer assisting them, as part of a drive to get parents and the rest of the wider community involved in Wicketz. There was some great cricket played throughout the morning, with the High Town Hitters emerging victorious.
The afternoon session was a knockout style tournament of six teams for participants up to the age of 15. One of the competing teams was formed of refugees from Afghanistan, who have been in the UK between one and four years, living in foster care in Luton.
Wicketz Development Officer Amran Malik has been delivering weekly sessions in the Hart Hill area of Luton, aimed at supporting these refugees by helping them develop both cricket and life skills. This tournament was the first interaction they have had with other Wicketz participants, and they impressed with their cricketing skills as well as their sense of fair competition and teamwork.
MCC Head Coach, Steve Kirby, was also at the cricket festival, with a member of the MCC Young Cricketers squad, Kashif Ali. Ali, a Luton native who is now training with the Kent CCC squad, inspired the youngsters with the story of his journey from the streets of Luton to being on the brink of being a professional cricketer. As his background and upbringing was similar to many of the participants', his story and message of working hard, self-belief and setting goals resonated with parents and youngsters alike.
Two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), who regularly work with Amran at the hubs in Luton, stopped by to give their support to the festival, praising the effect that Wicketz has had on community cohesion and also commenting on the skill levels of the youngsters. PCSO Dan McHugh said, "I came across Wicketz a few months ago, and when I came down to a session I was gobsmacked by what I saw. One of the best things about Wicketz is that you have young people from all walks of life, different nationalities and religions all playing together."