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2 May

Walking Cricket sessions launching in Bradford

The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF) is launching a new Walking Cricket group in Bradford in partnership with u3a.

The weekly sessions will run every Monday, from 9 May from 10am-12pm at Goals, King’s Road in Bradford.

Participants will have their first taster session free of charge and then each session will cost £3.50 each after that.

Walking Cricket & the benefits

Walking Cricket was developed as a new concept in 2019 by YCF and u3a – an organisation to support older people.

The activity is an adaptation of the traditional game of cricket to suit those with less mobility and caters for different abilities. Just as important as the cricket itself is the social element, with tea, coffee and biscuits provided and the opportunity for catch-up after the sessions.

There are a number of health benefits to Walking Cricket including aiding mobility and increasing health and wellbeing – including those living with mental health conditions.

It is a great activity, allowing players of all ages, abilities and fitness levels, including complete novices, to get involved – Mac Mckechnie, founder of first Walking Cricket side in Yorkshire

Kendal James, Participation Manager for YCF, said: “This is truly a sport for all, because we engage new participants, with zero experience right through to ex-cricketers.

“We’re incredibly excited to be launching this in Bradford and I would like to encourage members of the community in the city to come and give it a go and we are welcome to all.”

The activity has seen huge success across Yorkshire since being launched with more than 240 people taking part across 12 hubs in the region including groups in Rotherham, Barnsley, Leeds and Wakefield.

How Walking Cricket has changed people’s lives for the better

Walking Cricket has also become a lifeline, particularly in the pandemic for potentially isolated older people – not only for its physical rewards, but its mental and social benefits.

Norah Hoult, 81, a player for the Barnsley u3a Walking Cricket team since 2019, who had never played cricket before, said: “Walking Cricket has been an absolute god send… it brings people together.

I was smitten straight away. Even though I couldn’t bowl straight and missed a lot of balls when batting I loved it!”

Nora added: “I’m not in my 80s again when I’m playing, I’m 40 again.”

READ MORE: NORAH’S JOURNEY

Pictured Norah Hoult, 81, a player for the Barnsley u3a Walking Cricket team

Much of the success has been thanks to the Mac McKechnie, 71, the founder of the first Walking Cricket side in Yorkshire – the Barnsley u3a Walking Cricket team, who has been at the heart of increasing the impact of the transformational sport across the county.

Mac, an Armed Forces veteran, said: “It is a great activity, allowing players of all ages, abilities and fitness levels, including complete novices, to get involved.

“We have both male and female players everyone can be accommodated for.

“And just as important as the cricket itself, is the social element!”

In Walking Cricket teams comprise eight players, where players bat in pairs, and games are played on astro-turf.

The new Walking Cricket group in Bradford is launching at an exciting time for the activity as a new Yorkshire Walking Cricket league is launching on Sunday 1 May – which will see five teams from across Yorkshire competing for a place in the final on Tuesday 20 September.

While a new group is also starting in Barnsley (non u3a) at Shaw Lane on Tuesday 10 May catering for all levels.

For the future a long-term aim for YCF is to see Walking Cricket become ‘socially prescribed’ by the NHS across the county.

This would see the activity recommended and signposted to patients, visiting their local GPs, to help improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare.

Kendal said: “Moving forward we would love to see this engage more and more people and ideally a social prescribing avenue for people to get involved.”

Pictured, Mac McKechnie (centre), during a Walking Cricket International Women’s Day celebration.

High profile supporters of Walking Cricket include Joe Root, who is an ambassador for YCF.

Root previously said about the activity: “We all know that getting old throws up challenges especially in overcoming isolation and loneliness, and being able to undertake group sports at a very gentle pace is important.

“Walking Cricket fits the bill on all these levels and is one of the fastest growing sports in Yorkshire.”

He added: “I would like to wish all Walking Cricketers every success…May you continue to grow in numbers and profile.”

Northern Diamond cricketers Beth Langston, who supported at a Walking Cricket International Women’s Day event earlier this year added: “I think activities like Walking Cricket show that everyone – no matter your age or how much you’ve played cricket before – can give it a go.”

How to get involved in Walking Cricket

If you are interested in getting involved with Walking Cricket group in Bradford, please contact Mac McKechnie, on Email: mckechnie31@btinternet.com

And if you are interested in finding out more about Walking Cricket groups near you, please visit: bit.ly/WalkingCricket

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