The first of many free weekly sessions to make cricket accessible to children in Portsmouth took place on Friday 29 July, in what can be aligned with Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams tv series.
The sessions have been organised through a partnership between VIVID Plus, housing association VIVID’s charitable arm and Hampshire Cricket Board. The aim is to give children aged 11+ the opportunity to try a sport they’ve had little or no access to and provide a positive focus for them, starting during the summer holidays.
Oscar, who came along to the first session is a pupil at Trafalgar School in the city and is about to go into Year 9. He said: “I’ve played a little bit of cricket and discovered a passion I didn’t realise I had. When I heard about the opportunity to play each week starting in the school holidays, I knew I definitely wanted to come along as I’m really keen to play more. It’s an ideal location for me being walking distance from home.”
The project aims to engage young people in regular sport and physical activity to act as an early intervention tactic to help reduce youth crime and provide positive alternatives to anti-social behaviour (ASB). The partnership will target areas across the county that are hotspots for issues such as ASB over the coming year, starting with these sessions at Alexandra Park in Hilsea.
Derek Streek, Head of Communities, Standards and Partnerships at VIVID, said: “It was great to see so many young people enjoying themselves at the launch of this community cricket initiative. Together with Hampshire Cricket Board we’ve been able to make this happen having successfully bid for funding from the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner. The sessions are completely free, and all abilities are catered for. We want to really open up this sport so many more young people have the chance to benefit from it rather than it being viewed as an elite or “posh” sport.”
Hampshire Cricket Board and VIVID Plus received funding from Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, for the project as part of her drive to support victims, reduce offending or re-offending, and protect the vulnerable from crime and exploitation over the next three years.
Ben Thompson, Cricket Development Director, said: ‘’Cricket is a fantastic sport and we want to make it accessible to everyone whatever their background. Working with VIVID Plus, we believe we can have a positive impact on our communities and make regular sporting activities accessible to young people in deprived areas.’’
The upcoming dates at Alexandra Park in Hilsea are 5, 12, 19 and 26 August from midday until 3pm. It’s free of charge, families are welcome and you can wear what you want (there is no need to have cricket attire). For more information and to book a place please contact Sam Moss at email@example.com or call 07384 115633.