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UK to make multi-million-pound investment in grassroots cricket

April 19, 2024

Earlier this month, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a £35 million initiative to elevate cricket at the grassroots level, build facilities and increase access for youth in state schools. The investment is part of Government efforts to get one million more youth physically active by 2030 and bolster grassroots sport across England and Wales.

Supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board, the program aims to get over 900,000 young people to engage in the sport in the next five years with a particular focus on youth with special needs and marginalized communities. As Sunak stated, “There remains huge potential to grow the sport even further and open it up to everyone, from all backgrounds and in all parts of the country.”

In recent years, cricket in the UK has faced criticism due to reports of a lack of diversity and inclusion among participants of the sport. Many players in the current England squads attend private schools and many of them come from privileged socio-economic backgrounds. Issues like these have brought to attention the recruitment practices while highlighting the obstacles faced by young people with less privileged backgrounds.

The initiative will unfold over the next five years, which corresponds to England and Wales’s hosting of the 2026 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and the 2030 men’s edition. Cricket will also be returning to the Olympics in 2028. To optimize the sport’s presence and accessibility in diverse communities across England, the program will oversee the construction of 16 urban all-weather cricket domes, some of which will host World Cup matches. The domes allow for year-round play – connecting school, community and talent programs. Each dome will be built within diverse communities where figures have indicated low levels of physical activity.

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“Cricket is a diverse sport and our game has a unique reach across the UK’s population. Hosting both a women’s and a men’s Cricket World Cup between 2026 and 2030, and the inclusion of cricket in the Olympics for the first time in almost 130 years, gives us a platform to reach more young people than ever before and we’re really excited about that as a game,” stated England’s Cricket Board Chair (ECB), Richard Thompson.

In addition, £14 million pounds will be equally distributed to three charities: Chance to Shine – a Beyond Sport network member, which engages over half a million children across England, Wales and Scotland; Lord’s Taverners, a leading youth cricket and disability sport charity; and the ACE Programme Charity, which has a focus on working with children from African and Caribbean backgrounds.

The Government’s investment will also deliver an extension to the ECB and Chance to Shine charity’s free, in-school cricket program for every single school child in inner-city locations within the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup host cities across England. This will have a particular emphasis on children from lower socio-economic groups building on existing investment from Sport England. In addition there is an overall plan to provide 2,500 pieces of equipment to schools involved and facilitate 930,000 children playing cricket by 2030.

“I am so proud we are making a major £35 million investment in grassroots cricket today, to widen participation in schools, encourage healthy lifestyles and provide world class, all-year-round facilities for local communities,” shared the Prime Minister.


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