The Disability Cricket Champion Club Programme launched with the aim of opening up the cricket clubs of England and Wales to people with disabilities in a way not seen before.
“If 20% of society has a disability then where are they in our cricket landscape?” says Edgar Herridge, the ECB’s National Disabilities Manager. “In its simplest form, the programme offers more opportunity.
“If a disabled person’s local opportunity was maybe ten miles away, this may bring it down to three which is obviously in itself a positive. But actually it does something wider for social inclusion and brings to the fore inclusive practice.”
The Champion Club programme complements the outstanding programmes already delivered by the Lord’s Taverners and supports cricket clubs through guidance, resource and equipment, enabling them to welcome individuals with additional needs and varying abilities to support them to play, follow, officiate and volunteer.
Launched in February 2021, the programme was well on course for its target of 100 clubs before the end of April.
“We’re fortunate enough to have disability cricket activity all over the country but until now only about 5% of that is carried out within cricket clubs,” explains Herridge. “We know they’re fantastic settings to really encourage that migration from maybe a SEND school or community group, and bring them through the gates to get involved at their local cricket club.”
One such club is Walton-on-Thames CC in Surrey which, with the help of the Surrey Cricket Foundation, has been able to deliver year-round activities for more than two years.
“It’s a joint effort,” says Clive Duke from the club. “We have the facilities but we wouldn't be able to do all the coaching.”
Which is where Gavin Reynolds, Surrey’s participation manager for disabilities comes in. He says: “You just need one or two people from within your club to drive things forward to be that main point of contact working with your local county board, looking to do taster sessions in local areas schools, colleges and community groups,
“For me, as someone who works in disability cricket, this is a massively positive area to work on. To see so many people get involved in the fun and see the enjoyment on their faces as they come and get involved in cricket is fantastic.”