• Thursday, May 30, 2024

CRICKET

Sunak announces £35 million investment to boost grassroots cricket in UK

Sunak, who has expressed his passion for cricket, shared his excitement about harnessing the “magic of cricket” to engage more young people in physical activity by 2030.

Sunak meets participants in the ACE Programme, during a visit to the Oval cricket ground in south London, on April 5. (Photo credit: Reuters)

By: Vivek Mishra

Rishi Sunak, known for his love of cricket, has announced a £35 million investment plan to boost grassroots cricket facilities and enhance access to the sport in schools.

The British Prime Minister shared his excitement about harnessing the “magic of cricket” to engage more young people in physical activity by 2030.

“I love cricket, that’s no secret… I first experienced the magic of cricket watching Hampshire play at my local ground in Southampton as a child,” said Sunak.

The investment aims to provide 2,500 pieces of new equipment to participating schools, with a goal of getting 930,000 pupils involved in cricket over the next five years.

“For young people watching their first match today, the draw of getting outside and enjoying the game is just as strong, particularly as we look forward to hosting the women’s and men’s T20 World Cups. There remains huge potential to grow the sport even further and open it up to everyone, from all backgrounds and in all parts of the country,” he said.

Highlighting the importance of inclusivity, Sunak stressed the need to make cricket accessible to everyone, regardless of background or location. The investment plan includes constructing 16 all-weather cricket domes in diverse communities across England, targeting areas with low levels of physical activity.

“I know from first-hand experience that accessing cricket from a state school is not always the easiest route into the game, so it’s fantastic to hear that today’s announcement will support state school students,” said England cricketer James Anderson.

Three charities—Chance to Shine, Lord’s Taverners, and ACE—will receive GBP 14 million to support their efforts in promoting cricket in schools and communities.

“The draw of getting outside and enjoying the game is just as strong… There remains huge potential to grow the sport even further and open it up to everyone, from all backgrounds and in all parts of the country,” Sunak added.

The announcement coincides with the start of the men’s County Championship season and the upcoming summer term, traditionally a time for cricket in schools. It also precedes the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup scheduled for 2030.

Richard Thompson, chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), expressed optimism about making cricket more inclusive, emphasising the importance of providing opportunities for children from all backgrounds to play the sport.

“It is vital that cricket is available in as many state schools across England and Wales as possible, and across diverse communities. This support from the government represents a seminal moment in enabling the game to invest significantly in areas that up until now have not had the support they deserve,” he said.

The ECB’s vision includes hosting both the women’s and men’s Cricket World Cups between 2026 and 2030, as well as cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics. This aligns with the UK government’s Sports Strategy, which aims to increase overall physical activity levels, particularly among young people, with an ambition to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030.

(PTI)

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