Urban Cricket hit for six

Ryan Sidebottom

Ryan Sidebottom helped to open the new npower Urban Cricket facility © Getty Images

A towering six from Ryan Sidebottom marked the official opening of the npower Urban Cricket facility in Abbeyfield Park, Sheffield.

The new facility, which has transformed three disused tennis courts situated at the top of the park, is the second of five purpose-built cricket facilities to be opened across the country as part of the Urban Cricket initiative.

It provides a permanent space for children in the area to learn and practise their cricket skills, turning them into possible stars of the future.

Sidebottom said: "It's fantastic to see initiatives such as npower Urban Cricket introducing the game to youngsters and encouraging them to get out there and play. It's going to make a real difference to the local community and will hopefully produce some more great cricketers from Yorkshire".

In addition to the facility, five school playgrounds in the Sheffield area have also been redeveloped into Urban Cricket Zones. These zones will help children with an interest in cricket to practice and develop their skills.

The schools that have benefited from this project are; Firs Hill Community Primary School, Fir Vale School, St Catherine's Catholic Primary School, Byron Wood Primary School and Whiteways Junior School.

Urban Cricket

Working in partnership with Sheffield City Council's ‘Activity Sheffield’ and ‘Parks and Countryside Service’ and the Yorkshire Cricket Board, the development of the facility and its five supporting zones, creates a tiered community development programme with a clear route for children to follow, from learning basic skills all the way up to playing club cricket.

Tim Rippon, cabinet member for economic regeneration, culture and planning at Sheffield City Council commented: "The npower Urban Cricket arena at Abbeyfield Park will really benefit the local area. It adds to the facilities we've got locally and will help kids lead more active lifestyles.

“Urban Cricket has been rolled out into other areas of the UK with great success; we are very fortunate to have it here in Sheffield too."

npower Urban Cricket, a grassroots project run in conjunction with the ECB, was launched in 2006 with one clear goal - to get more children playing cricket. Since its launch in 2006, npower and the ECB have distributed over 40,000 Urban Cricket kits to children in the UK.

In 2007 and 2008, the focus for Urban Cricket has shifted to the development of five facilities with five Urban Cricket zones in school playgrounds surrounding each of the facilities.

The first facility was opened by Monty Panesar in South London in August 2007. The next facility is due to be opened in Birmingham.