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CricketForce record continues to grow

Cheadle CC Dave Leighton

ECB club programmes manager Dave Leighton said: "It’s about people and it’s about facilities, if you like, in a nutshell"

More than 1,600 clubs will take part in NatWest CricketForce at the end of the month - a record for the ECB scheme that started with one in 2002.

Eight years ago, around 200 people helped to spruce up Lingfield Cricket Club in Surrey, ECB club programmes manager Dave Leighton recalls.

Although growth was initially slow, CricketForce took off in 2005 with England players signed up to promote the scheme and visit certain clubs.

That grew to 1,514 last year and Leighton is now aiming to have 2,000 clubs on board by 2014, but refuses to focus on figures alone.

“That’s what we’re aiming for, but to do that we’ll have to increase about 100 every year,” he told ecb.co.uk.

“But it’s not, for me, just the increasing numbers. It’s more understanding the quality of what they produce because effectively NatWest CricketForce is about two things in the main.

“It’s about improving facilities for sure, but it’s also about galvanising volunteers and recruiting volunteers for the future. It’s about people and it’s about facilities, if you like, in a nutshell.”

Leighton, who is co-ordinating and will oversee three days of activity on the weekend of March 26-28, explained how clubs get involved.

“What you get is a mix,” he said. “You get a core year-on-year, you get some that are in for the first time, some that were in a year or two ago and have come back to it because they now have another project to do.

"Then you’ve got some that were in it very early on and have come back to it. So, a variety of things.”

If your club is interested in taking part, there is still time to sign your club up to CricketForce here. The closing date is March 22.