Jenny Gunn stars at Myra Shay new nets opening
Northern Superchargers player Jenny Gunn helped celebrate the opening of new cricket facilities in Bradford today, (Wednesday, 20 July).
The former England international cricketer received a brilliant welcome from those in attendance, with the Northern Diamonds player happily signing autographs and taking part in cricket activities with a group of youngsters from the local area as part of a special community event.
The event, organised by award-winning charity – Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF), saw the culmination of a Tapeball tournament with teams going head-to-head, and a range of cricketing activities to celebrate the opening of the new cricket facilities, installed in Myra Shay.
The outdoor cricket practice nets have been built in Myra Shay Recreation Ground off Barkerend Road – thanks to funding from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) – and include a three-lane public open access practice net facility, built to ECB standards, on a section of the park close to Lapage Primary School, while a non-turf pitch has also been created.
Slow seam bowler Jenny Gunn, said: “It is amazing to see these facilities… These nets are open to all and provide an opportunity to play regardless of age or background.
“Bradford is an area we need to focus on and these facilities have been made possible thanks to a collaboration of organisations. We can all work together – and that is what cricket is all about – bringing people from all backgrounds together.
“I hope these facilities can aspire and be the start of something special for a lot of young people. Seeing the smile on the kids faces here today is very promising.
“I hope they stick with cricket and the next cricketing star is produced here.”
Pictured Northern Superchargers Jenny Gunn taking part at Myra Shay.
More than 20 young people took part in cricketing activities alongside Gunn and qualified coaches from YCF.
Sawda Zainab, 10, a youngster from the area, who took part, said: “I’ve really enjoyed today, I loved talking to Jenny and having matches against others.
“It inspired me having the chance to play… Jenny taught me how to hold a bat and ball which has made me keen to play again.”
Seven year-old Mohammed Sumair Zada, added: “Jenny has taught us how to bat today which has been great.
“I play football a lot but this has inspired me to play cricket – this is more enjoyable than football for me.”
A Tapeball competition – where a a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape and is used in backyard cricket – also took place, featuring players from Bengal Tigers Bradford Cricket Club – one of the teams from the North Bangladeshi Cricket Association (NBCA) – which launched in May this year.
Muddasar Fiaz, a Tapeball player, said: “It’s great having the Tapeball competition here today – as Tapeball cricket attracts people from all backgrounds.
“For example today we have people for an Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan background – to name a few. It is extremely diverse which is great to see – Tapeball is one of those things that brings people together.”
The new nets are just one of the steps in creating a new “sports hub” at the Council owned facility.
Nick Pryde, the ECB’s Director of Participation and Growth, said: “We are delighted to see the new Myra Shay facility open today, which will help to inspire the next generation of cricketers to grow the game in Bradford.
“Our aim is to see more people playing the game, so that we can have a positive impact on communities across the country, getting more people fit, healthy and active.
“We know how important it is to have facilities to give people the opportunity to do that, which is why we’re investing in a number of projects across the city.”
Across the district the ECB are funding a number of open access facilities, meaning people don’t need to be a member of a club to use them.
Bradford Park Avenue is a facility which has been central to the ECB’s investment plans in the city because of the role it plays in servicing the community, including the Quaid-E-Azam league and a range of programmes targeted at local children.
The ECB has invested over £650,000 directly into facilities at Bradford Park Avenue, including the eight lane net facility and changing pavilion used by thousands of participants annually. It has also worked with Bradford Metropolitan District Council to build 12 non turf pitches and three further practice facilities around the city, to ensure there is local access to facilities.
Bradford Park Avenue is within a three-mile radius of 30 cricket clubs, 32 cricket pitches, 164 schools and 295,000 people.
Zain Ul Abdin, a Community Development Officer in Bradford, for YCF, who has helped organise the event, said: “The opening ceremony is a special day for the Foundation – with lots of community cricket opportunities and activities also available to take part in on the day.“A lot of work has gone on to reach this point by a number of organisations and today we hope to inspire young people and members of the community to make the most of these fantastic cricketing facilities now and in the future.
“Having these facilities is really significant for the local area and going forward we hope this will open up opportunities to continue breaking down boundaries and get as many people involved in the game as possible.”
Nasa Hussain, cricket groundsman at Bradford Park Avenue, added: “These facilities give everyone an opportunity to play. This is a fantastic engagement tool – it will help get young people off the street and shows a connection between us and the people playing cricket.
“What is brilliant about today is there are lots of young girls playing cricket here and as it is open access it is not specific to anyone, anyone is free to come and play.
“The facility in an open space – there are not many places with facilities like this. It gives the community an ownership, encourages the community to look after it and ensure it is being used.”