[lead]Crispin Shingler will use cricket to help empower inner-city communities after becoming the Gloucestershire Cricket Board’s (GCB) first Wicketz Development Officer.[/lead]
The 41-year-old whose role has been funded by the Lord’s Taverners – is aiming to use the game as a catalyst for social development for eight to 15-year-olds in some of Bristol’s most under-privileged areas.
The idea is for cricket to be the starting point for a wide range of other things. This could range from helping to build an individual’s social skills and self-confidence through to breaking down barriers and bringing people together through the shared experience of playing cricket.
Crispin’s role is the fourth to be launched nationally following successful Wicketz schemes in London, Hartlepool and Luton. It is also being rolled out in Leicester, Nottingham, Birmingham and Crawley.
Crispin brings a wealth of experience from a diverse background that includes acting, teaching, events management and business as well as cricket coaching.
In order to reach the greatest number of people including many who may never have played before – the cricket on offer as part of the Wicketz project will differ greatly from the traditional game.
Sessions are free and will be held at places like community centres, with matches played with a soft ball and adapted rules â€“ similar to the GCB’s successful Chance to Shine Street cricket scheme.
The aim isn’t to target keen cricketers who want to play competitive club cricket – there are plenty of other opportunities for those people. We want to make cricket a fun, inclusive experience that can be tailored to different spaces, players and their needs.
We hope that if young people have an enjoyable experience of cricket it will create a positive environment where they may be open to other development opportunities.
Although based around cricket, the programme will also link in with other activities and community programmes including boxing, football and the arts. Crispin will also look to work with pupil referral units, local police and other organisations that deal with young people who have social difficulties.
As well as featuring cricket activities, sessions may include support and guidance on things like health and nutrition, drug awareness and employability.
The Wicketz programme has funding for an initial three years. Over this time Crispin hopes to make projects sustainable by training leaders from within the community to take over the running of them.
For more information on the Wicketz programme including how to get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring him on 07398 211 596.