Project recognised for fine work
Bluebird Care Hampshire Disability Project has been nominated in the top 10 National Lottery Best Sports Projects.
The project promotes disability cricket in a wide range of areas, from encouraging disabled people to play the game, enabling them to become coaches, offering coaching to those at a high standard and working with cricket clubs advocating the inclusion of disabled cricket within them.
The project has enjoyed a number of key success - more than 1,000 disabled players have been coached; more than half play in competitions in Hampshire; three disability teams represent Hampshire in national competitions; 20 coaches regularly coach disabled cricketers; 70 coaches were briefed at the HCBCA Annual Conference on how to include disabled players into their clubs.
For disabled people who want to emulate their cricketing heroes, finding a club to play for can be difficult.
Help, however, can be found on the South Coast thanks to the Hampshire Cricket Board’s Disability Cricket Project which is providing more opportunities to play.
Lottery funding has allowed HCB to employ full-time Cricket Development Officer (Disability) Greig Stewart and this has allowed for a greater focus on developing the scheme. The result is more than 1,000 players now being involved.
But the project is far more wide-ranging than simply getting people to play and this year’s focus is on inclusion.
Where the majority of mainstream clubs sit apart from disabled cricket, the key is to work with them and promote the inclusion of disabled cricketers.
“It’s easy for us to get into schools and give the kids a taster of playing the game,” said Stewart.
“But the key is to get them to continue playing and that’s where the clubs come in. We’ve had success with a few clubs and we hit a wider audience with our disability awareness session during a recent development programme for cricket coaches. We need to create something sustainable with them.”
The project has three representative teams – two for players with physical and learning disabilities and one for people with visual impairments.
Players are also encouraged to become coaches, like Leon Badger who coaches the under-nines, arranges sessions at the disability section of a local club and helps out at fundraisers.
“We do get involved in coaching as well," added Stewart. "Particularly for players who have potential to play at a higher level, but our priorities remain getting more people to play, more people to coach and more clubs to include disabled people. The Lottery grant has enabled us to take big steps in all those areas."
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