'WICKETZ' in Wales
Gabby Basketeer Wicketz South Wales Development Officer 07388806076 [email protected]
Wicketz is a cricket programme for young people aged 8-19, living in deprived communities. By establishing sustainable community cricket hubs, we provide year-round weekly cricket sessions with a focus on breaking down barriers, developing crucial life skills, creating stronger communities and enabling brighter futures for those taking part. Wicketz in Wales is a funded project with the Lord's Taverners and Cricket Wales.
We have two well established hubs in Wales both with regular participants, and a third just started. All hubs have regularly attending participants at them; Abercynon and Ferndale are still in their early days with between 7-12 attending but Llanrumney now has 15-20 weekly and has been very successful in attracting and retaining participants and seeing noticeable changes with the participant group. Both established hubs have a mix of boys and girls, with most in the 8 - 13 age group. Although we have run many tasters in secondary and high school it has been difficult to engage the 13-16 age group, in part because of the high number of younger participants. We have children in foster care attending weekly.
With support from Sport Rhondda Cynon Taff (Sport RCT), we have been carrying out tasters across most primary schools within the local catchment area, with positive response from pupils and staff and a number of pupils coming to the hub afterwards. W ith Abercynon also supported by Pontypridd High School who offer us free use of their venue as part of their Youth Engagement Programme which allows us to target the older age group of 11-16-year olds. The hub is becoming popular in the community, with dedicated participants and backing from the local cricket club (who referred all their All Stars participants) and sports authority. Our Ferndale hub is now at Rhondda Fach Leisure Centre, which allows a wider range of participants to attend.
Wicketz concentrates on building life skills to enhance the prospects of participants, using sports activity, both within sessions and through workshops. Participants have really enjoyed being given responsibility for leading warmups and other activities, with a real sense of ownership and achievement when it comes together well and everyone enjoys it. They have also been given problems to solve using team-based activities and asked to discuss and reflect. Through activities like this there have been noticeable improvements, which participants self-perception evaluations have also reflected, in team skills, leadership, communication and social skills within the group. These skills will all help with education, school participation and future prospects. With more workshops being planned, we foresee an increased impact on the personal development of the participants across all sessions.
The opportunity the Wicketz programme brings, with its focus on life skills and social integration, is different to most sport sessions and the impact this has had over the last 6 months have also been noted by both parents and community bodies who have seen a difference in behaviours, attitudes and engagement in both established hubs over the last 6 months. Wicketz reputation is growing in the cricket community and across Cardiff in particular. A number of people and organisations have asked to come and watch the program in action and others asking how their communities can become involved as they have heard good things about Wicketz in Llanrumney. For example, Sport Cardiff noted the value of the programme in the community and how much of an impact it was having in the area. A number of parents and carers have also commented how much the group have bonded and become friends and that their children look forward to coming every week.
We have had good support from the community in running the programme by linking with the local sports authorities and have a good relationship with a group of local foster carers who
spread the message around the community. In addition, we have recently established good partnerships to help the social issues and personal development of the participants. These include -
- Fare Share Cymru who provide us with free food from supermarkets to give to the children at the end of the sessions and a platform to discuss healthy eating
- RAF who are offering to run some workshops and team building activities at our hubs
and festivals in the New Year
- Fire Service offering workshops on fire safety, and a presence in the hub to gain respect and raise awareness
- Wales and West Housing who are helping to promote and raise awareness of our
hubs, with future opportunities to be looked into.
We now have recruited a volunteer from the University of South Wales who regularly helps at sessions.
In August 2019, a team of girls from Wales took part in the inaugural National Girls Wicketz Festival held at Repton School. Sixty girls from Wicketz projects across UK took part in a variety of activities including coaching, matches, team building activities led by the Royal Navy and a variety of workshops and motivational talks. The 8 festival workshops concentrated on leadership, team skills and social issues and social development.
In September Wicketz Development Officers attended a 2-day Youth Mental Health First Aid course. This will enable them to be better equipped to recognise, talk to and support young people with mental health issues and signpost them on to appropriate services.
Participants will be forming a Guard of Honour at Glamorgan T20 Blast fixtures and possibly at the Hundred with Welsh Fire.