Staffs’ Wolverhampton Street Cricket project, run in partnership with the city’s The Way Youth Zone, won the NatWest No Boundaries Award at the Chance to Shine annual awards at Lord’s.
England one-day international batsman Jason Roy and former Test stars Nick Compton, Devon Malcolm and Chris Tremlett were in attendance as Staffs were recognised for their ground-breaking venture which was launched in March.
The project brings together children aged eight to 15 from different backgrounds to play Tapeball cricket, a format of the game played using a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape as well as helping to develop skills like teamwork, communication and improving the children’s confidence levels.
And the weekly Thursday sessions, run by coach Tariq Ali, have proved a smash hit with 74 children from 10 different nationalities taking part.
Ali was joined at Lord’s by Staffs Cricket Club and Community Development Officer Kevin Herbert, The Way manager Jenny Williams and Afghanistan twins Arslan and Shukran Awan, who are regular players having arrived in the country in January.
48-year-old Wolverhampton Cricket Club member Ali, who was also nominated for Coach of the Year, was thrilled to see the project come out on top. “It’s absolutely brilliant to win this award,” he said. “A lot of time and effort goes into putting this project on and it’s really nice to be recognised.
“The team at The Way have been wonderful from day one, they’re very accommodating and play a huge part in the sessions being so successful.”
Planning for the project started back in January and Herbert, who played a key role in the operation, was delighted to see all the hard work officially recognised.
“The Wolverhampton Street project started in March and has run every Thursday since but the planning started in January when the search started for a suitable venue,” said Herbert.
“We had to look for the right partners and that was The Way Youth Zone. Itwas chosen because of its central location, in an inner city area with a high population of BAME (British, black, Asian, and minority ethnic) and a captive audience of eight to 15-year-olds.
“One of their managers, Jenny Williams, has been instrumental in helping set it all up. We are very grateful to The Way and the way they have supported Staffordshire Cricket. Then we had to find the right person to deliver it and that person was Tariq Ali. Tariq and Jenny set about the recruitment process by advertising the project and from initial responses we knew that this project was going to be a success. Tariq has worked tirelessly recruiting by going into temples and mosques and the community. He was looking to recruit non cricketers. Over the eight months we have had 74 children take part - as many as 42 in one session – from 10 different nationalities.
“We are delighted to win this award. The NatWest strapline is ‘Cricket Has No Boundaries’ and that is certainly true of the project at The Way. We are so proud of what we have done. To see the children playing with a smile on their face and making new friends, that what it is about for us. It’s enabling more children to play cricket who perhaps wouldn’t normally get the opportunity. Over 80 per cent of the people who are in the project hadn’t played cricket before.”
Staffordshire were presented with their award by Martyn Wilson, Head of Sponsorship & Hospitality, NatWest. Luke Swanson, chief executive at Chance to Shine, and England ace Roy, were quick to praise the project. “Our awards celebrate some truly inspiring people who use the power of cricket to ignite new passions, teach vital skills and unite diverse communities,” said Swanson.
“Wolverhampton Street Cricket is a shining example which richly deserves this recognition. The project has made a real difference by giving so many young people their Chance to Shine, and we hope it will give that opportunity to many more.”
Roy added: “It was an incredibly inspiring evening. It was fantastic to hear the powerful stories of the people who make cricket the amazing, inclusive game that it is. I’d like to congratulate the Wolverhampton Street team for all their hard work and dedication to the sport.”
Posted on Friday 24th November 2017, in Latest News