The £1.7 million cricket hub was created in conjunction with ECB and Essex County Cricket Club and will allow Waltham Forest to build on an already rich cricketing heritage in the borough. Essex County Cricket Club once called the ground home, and England and Essex batting legend Graham Gooch was a keynote speaker on the day.
Cricket is a sport loved throughout the world. The new Leyton facility will bring opportunities for participation to residents and a whole new generation who might previously have struggled to access cricketing facilities. Waltham Forest is also the borough where the globally famous Dukes cricket ball is produced, used in all England’s home test matches.
The cricket hub aims to inspire local South Asian communities to want to play, support and engage with the sport, as well as encouraging more women and girls to get involved – a key part of the ECB South Asian Action Plan, launched last year. The facility will provide accessible and affordable cricket for residents, brought to life through programmes such as Women’s Soft Ball Cricket, All Stars Cricket and tape ball cricket.
Councillor Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be launching the Leyton Cricket Hub today – the first in the ECB’s plan to develop a network of Urban Cricket Centres.
“In Waltham Forest, we are totally committed to giving people the opportunity to pursue their passions, realise their ambitions and lead healthy and active lifestyles. Sport is a fantastic way of breaking down barriers to participation and this successful partnership with ECB is a real asset for our residents, adding to an already eclectic sport, leisure and cultural offer in our borough.
“Our strength in Waltham Forest is through our diversity and we take great pride in giving a platform for our South Asian communities to enjoy and participate for many years to come in a sport loved around the world.”
This was the launch of the first phase of the scheme, delivered in just six months. Subsequent phases will see the creation of a real food hub, to feature a food hall, café, demonstration kitchen, food market and community space.
A second stage submission to secure the funding will be made to The National Lottery Heritage Fund in the summer of 2019. Heritage and food related activities will start on the site in early 2020 and building conservation works will be complete by 2021.
Announcing the cricket facility opening, Lord Patel of Bradford, Chair of the ECB South Asian Advisory Group said: “To mark the one-year anniversary of the South Asian Action Plan with the opening of the first Urban Cricket Centre is a landmark moment. Cricket has a unique ability to reach across diverse social, cultural and religious groups and this centre will contribute to building a stronger, healthier community.”
Adil Rashid, England cricketer, added: “This is an exciting facility that will help grow the game amongst the South Asian community here. It’s important that people have places to play in inner-cities and this is a great example of how the sport can bring people together in the local area.”
Shruti Saujani, ECB City Programme Manager, who is leading the South Asian Female Volunteering Programme, commented: “This has the potential to make a massive difference to cricket in this country. We are already seeing some incredible stories of South Asian women across the country taking up the game and becoming role models for the next generation.”
For more detailed information and to download the action plan in full, please click here.