Leg Before Wicket

Leg Before Wicket

Inspiring Young People Through Cricket

In our project Leg Before Wicket, cricket was used as the key catalyst to encourage young people to become more active and engaged with their community. The project sought to address the lack of physical activities for young people during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a serious effect on their mental and physical health and well-being.

Working with diverse communities in Chelmsford from the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu diaspora, Essex Cultural Diversity Project set up a Summer Cricket Club which was open to young people aged 15-21. 37 young people took part in the project (23 male and 14 female), who played indoor cricket at the local Hampton Sports Leisure Facilities, and outdoor cricket at Boreham Recreational Grounds.

Our Cricket Summer Holiday Camp was supported by Essex Cricket Club’s Community Outreach Programme, which provided training sessions from professional cricket coaches, and semi-professional Essex Cricket Club players attended the programme to inspire the young people. Highlights included a visit from Eshun Kallay who met the young people at the Essex County Ground.

A majority of the diverse young people who took part in the project lived with extended, low-income families, with limited resources to physical activities due to the pandemic, and a lack of support from parents due to the nature of their work in low-skilled jobs with unsocial hours, including taxi drivers, hospitality sector workers, security guards and manual labourers.

The medium of cricket has always been popular with Muslim communities from Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Sri Lanka, but due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, young people had not been able to play the sport. With no after school clubs and limited Physical Education (PE) lessons in schools, we found that many young people had lost the focus to enjoy physical exercise, hobbies and outdoor games.

Essex Cultural Diversity Project were keen to support initiatives to engage young people from diverse backgrounds, to build their self-esteem, confidence and physical fitness, and reconnect with their communities and overcome social isolation, by reconnecting with the team sports and hobbies they enjoyed.

Quotes from participants

Bilal from the Chelmsford Muslim Association said, “the project enabled me to take part in physical activities through playing cricket at my local community centre Hamptons Leisure Centre and outdoors with other young people at Borehamwood Cricket Club. I felt very isolated during the pandemic but the Leg Before Wicket programme enabled me to become more involved in playing sports’’.

Nafisa from Chelmsford said, “I have never played cricket before but through Leg Before Wicket I thoroughly enjoyed the indoor sessions and the opportunity to visit the local Essex Cricket Club indoor facilities and the stadium tour, during the lockdown I was feeling very low”.

The Leg Before Wicket (LBW) Cricket Summer Holiday Camp was managed by Essex Cultural Diversity Project in partnership with the Chelmsford Muslim Association supported by Essex Cricket Club and funded through Active Essex.

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