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26 May

Adil Rashid backs new Bradford Cricket Initiative

A NEW drive to encourage more South Asian children into cricket and to help reduce anti-social behavior has been backed by a Yorkshire star.

The free sessions, run by Shapla Sports Initiative and the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, will be held at BEAP Community Sports Hall, Cornwall Road, Bradford, every Saturday between 4pm and 6pm.

The Shapla Sports Initiative’s cricket sessions start tomorrow and are open to initially to boys aged eight to 16.

Each session will not only feature coaching and matches but police officers will be among those who talk to the group.

The project will be particularly targeting the city’s children of Bangladeshi descent to take part in the sport.

Heaton-born Yorkshire all-rounder Adil Rashid, 27, has backed the project, as youngsters look to follow in his footsteps.

Mr Rashid said: “I think it’s a great idea. It’s a good opportunity for the children to learn about discipline when they come into a team situation and learn about respect.

“The opportunity is out there for them to progress. Things were a lot different when I was a kid. It’s harder now. I was not on the streets, I was playing sport.”

Mr Islam said: “I want to show that you can unite the community through sport. It takes them off the streets.

“We want to increase South Asian participation in cricket in Bradford at grassroots level.

“That needs to be done from the grassroots and projects like this will help.

“Most South Asian families see cricket as a hobby, but the children can also take it forward and make a career out of cricket.

“I want parents to come along to the sessions too and see the impact that playing sport has. They will be encouraged to watch their children play cricket at the sessions.

“We are looking to get more South Asian players in cricket, particularly more Bangladeshi children.

“We will be getting the police to come down to the sessions too to talk to the children and we will also offer them more information about training and education.

“Taking part can boost children’s self-esteem by being part of a group. It’s being part of something positive and bringing everyone together.

“We even took a group down to the T20 match between Yorkshire and Derbyshire at Headingley last week, so the children could see a game for themselves.”

Taj Butt, community development officer at Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, said: “Cricket is not just about the batting, bowling and fielding.

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