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14 Jun

Six Months On...

…Wicketz helps put Cricket back on the map at the Karmand Centre, Bradford

The Karmand Centre has been delivering local community projects to the Bradford (BD3) community since 1983. Sport, physical activity, and cricket has always played a big part in this service. In 2012 the Karmand Centre were successful in a bid to build a new cricket ground and local teams were formed off the back of this development, who began to use the ground regularly. Despite these positive steps forward, organised youth cricket – recreation or competitive – has fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years.

Cue the launch of the Wicketz Yorkshire! Wicketz began at Karmand Centre in December 2017 and has flourished ever since. Wicketz provides free access to weekly cricket sessions for children and young people from areas of deprivation, precisely the bottom 10%. What’s more, research has found that children and young people in surrounding areas of Karmand are more likely to be excluded from organised sport, and therefore the benefits associated with it.

The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF), official charity of Yorkshire CCC, has a variety of projects under their Participation theme, all which harness the power of sport for social change and development. Wicketz Yorkshire forms part of a national programme, funded by Lord Taverners and implemented by the YCF.

Fast forwarding 6 months, the Wicketz project has delivered 1 consultation event, 36 free to access weekly cricket sessions and 1 festival event for 8-16-year olds. Graced with facilities including a sports hall, cricket nets, 3G football pitches (perfect for a street style game) and a full-sized cricket pitch; the community centre has complimented the versatility of Wicketz nicely. From one week to the next, a change in surface and environment can take a youngster from taking part in a soft ball tournament indoors to facing hardball outside in the nets.

Since its inception in December last year, over 100 children and young people have engaged with the weekly sessions at Karmand, with two thirds attending at least once across May, creating a new community of youth cricketers in the BD3 area.

Wicketz Yorkshire has been at the centre of a Leeds Beckett led consultancy project aiming:

“To gain an understanding of the Wicketz programme, to allow for its influence on participants lives to be understood and enhanced”.

By researching closely with 20 children and young people, asking questions and discussing their experiences with the programme, the report has unearthed some positive findings:

Over 60% wouldn’t be able to attend if the session were at a cost due to their families’ disposable income being prioritised elsewhere.

One participant said:

“Wicketz has given me the opportunity to participate in cricket, and it doesn’t cost money which means I can come and play the sport I really enjoy and don’t have to pay for”

Over 70% have made new friends from different communities since joining the Wicketz programme.

A participant shared:

“I have made loads of new friends since attending the Wicketz, who I now contact away from the sessions and chat about the session. It also has allowed me to make friends from different schools and areas in Bradford”

And most remarkably, over 80% have reported an increase in individual confidence.

When reflecting on this a participant commented:

“When I first attending Wicketz I struggle with my confidence and when I am nervous my stutter becomes really bad, but since then each week I have become more confident in my ability to play cricket but also talk to new people and my stutter has gone.”

Behind the playing of cricket Wicketz chips away at social issues, including talking about employment, health, education and crime, all of which disproportionately affect children, young people and the wider community. The Wicketz programme does this by using different educational interventions to raise awareness and equip the participants with connections and new skills sets that counteract these inequalities.

Findings from Leeds Beckett shine a light on the Wicketz programme as beginning to make this difference, even in it’s very early stages, showcasing the potential cricket possess when children and young people come together to simply, play the game.

Interested in taking part in Wicketz in Leeds and Bradford?

To find out session times and more information about the project, Click Here


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