“It was such an emotional event.” Reflections on the first ever LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Cricket Conference

A pioneering LGTBQ+ Inclusion in Cricket Conference brought together different voices for a day of reflection, celebration and anticipation of what’s to come as cricket continues to strive to be a game for everyone.

Plans for the advancement of LGBTQ+ participation in cricket continue to accelerate in 2023, off the back of a year in which almost 70 people from across England and Wales gathered at Edgbaston for the first ever LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Cricket Conference.

Organised by Lachlan Smith (chairperson, Birmingham Unicorns CC) and Leo Skyner (chairperson, Graces CC), with support from both Warwickshire CCC and Middlesex CCC, the event proved a huge success.

The work of Leo and Lachlan is part of a game-wide effort to improve cricket’s ability to be welcoming to and inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. The ECB are forming an LGBTQ+ Community in Cricket Employee Engagement group, and have also been working with Proud Surrey and Pride in Cricket – with whom they ran Rainbow Laces in 2022 and marched at Pride in London.

“The amount of work Lachlan and Leo did to pull together a really thorough agenda and secure the variety of speakers they did, and what they’re offering to do in a completely voluntary perspective, is absolutely incredible,” said Laura Entwistle, head of strategy and governance at Warwickshire CCC.

“It was such an emotional event and what they’re doing for cricket, and how they’re making it a more inclusive sport, is amazing. They’re having an incredible impact on people’s lives and on cricket as a whole.”

Skyner and Smith, who sits on the Warwickshire CCC Members’ Committee, first came up with the idea of the conference many months ago. Their concept naturally aligned with Warwickshire CCC’s EDI strategy Edgbaston for Everyone and a longstanding relationship between Warwickshire, Skyner and Smith helped to turn the plans into reality.

“The whole purpose of the conference was to benefit the game, bring everyone together and have those meaningful conversations that revolve around sharing best practice,” says Entwistle.

“We felt we could facilitate something from a practical point of view by gifting the use of the room and hosting event registrations on our website, and both ourselves and Middlesex CCC split the other costs of the event.”

During the day, a series of presentations and discussions took place about developing and supporting the LGBTQ+ community in cricket. The morning sessions included a Q&A on growing engagement and participation, while the afternoon featured a trans, non-binary and intersex panel discussion as well advice and tips on strengthening inclusion at cricket clubs of all levels.

Smith and Skyner are now working on plans for the next LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Cricket Conference and more activity is planned with Warwickshire CCC, including:

  • A second coaching masterclass at Edgbaston for Birmingham Unicorns players with WCCC coaches
  • A potential Birmingham-based 6-a-sde LGBTQ+ tournament to coincide with Pride month
  • A fixture at Lapworth CC, home of the Unicorns, featuring WCCC male and female players

Warwickshire Cricket Board has also pledged continued funding and development support of Unicorns’ officials, volunteers and coaches, as well as offering to facilitate a local data capture on LGBTQ+ inclusion that can be used as the foundations of targeted club development support.

Laura Entwistle added: “Lachlan and Leo are so passionate about providing opportunities for people from the LGBTQ+ community to play cricket in a safe environment. We are incredibly proud to support them and look forward to continuing our work together.”