Queens Park youngsters staying active thanks to ECB street cricket initiative

The youngsters of Queens Park taking part in the latest street cricket initiative from Cricket East in September 2023
The youngsters of Queens Park taking part in the ECB's latest initiative Image: Cricket East

While the regular cricket season draws to a close and with winter just around the corner, cricket continues to take centre stage in Queens Park thanks to the ‘Chance to Shine’ street cricket initiative.

As part of Cricket East’s inclusion strategy and the ECB’s wider hopes of growing the game, Queens Park has been front and centre in the attempts to reach under-privileged communities by introducing the quirkier version of the sport.

Street cricket is played using a tennis ball wrapped in insulation tape, (otherwise known as ‘Tapeball’) and is ideally suited for enclosed areas like tennis and basketball courts.

A common criticism of regular cricket is that many are priced out of the sport, with bats, pads, helmets and everything else required to play mounting up to hundreds of pounds.

However, street cricket aims to jump those barriers by providing a low-cost version of the sport to be played almost anywhere.

A Bedford tapeball event Image: England and Wales Cricket Board

Dave Summers, Diverse Communities Officer for Cricket East, said: “We’ve been developing these free Chance to Shine Street tapeball sessions right across the Cricket East area in a bid to bring people together.

“The reaction so far has been fantastic. It’s just a brilliant way for local kids to enjoy sport, meet different people and visit different places without facing all the expense of traditional cricket.”

New defibrillator for Queens Park Westfield

The tapeball tournament in Queens Park attracted the attention of the BBC, and with the initiative featuring as part of a segment on BBC Look East, Cricket East have been inundated with requests from other urban areas in Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, looking to bring tapeball to their streets.

However, it’s not just the increased participation that has come to Queens Park.

Queens Park Westfield Cricket Club has been supplied with a new defibrillator by the National Asian Cricket Council as part of a £200,000 nationwide campaign to get defibrillators into sports clubs.

As well as this, a targeted local coaching programme has provided bursaries to ten up and coming cricket coaches – including three women – all with the potential to support cricket’s sustainability across the region.

Northamptonshire batsman, Emilio Gay grew up in Bedford and is one of the nation’s top prospects Image: Northamptonshire CCC

There are also opportunities for the youngsters to see their stars in action as Northamptonshire County Cricket Club are providing players, coaches and volunteers in Queens Park exclusive access to match day tickets, with two visits to Wantage Round planned for the future.

Dave Summers said: “We’re incredibly proud of all the activity happening across the Cricket East area.

“Recently, youngsters travelled from Bedford to play counterparts in Peterborough.

“Cricket is making a significant and tangible impact in bringing people together and keeping people healthy – and we’ve got plenty more to deliver over the coming weeks and months.”

For more information on this project and to get involved in cricket, you can email Cricket East’s Diverse Communities Officer, Dave Summers at dave.summers@cricketeast.co.uk

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