REGIONAL NEWS: Community, Cricket, and Women Score a Sixer

Halima Khan with Major Stan Hardy who attended to present the project with a Duke of York's Community Initiative Award

Sportswomen of the future were recently seen in action at a cricket tournament for girls, as part of the increasing popularity of the sport amongst female players.

Yorkshire Cricket bosses were more than impressed with the level of talent spotted, at the day tournament for pupils at primary schools across West Yorkshire.

The event featuring seven schools was held at the award-winning Mount Cricket Club, in Staincliffe, in Dewsbury, known for its supportive and welcoming atmosphere.

Attending the event was sports expert Halima Khan, who is winner of Bradford Inspirational Woman in Sport 2013 and has more than a decade of working in the sports industry. She is a cricket coach at local and international level and perhaps the only Muslim woman in Yorkshire to be invited by the ICC to watch the recent T20 finals in India.

cricket 2Halima, who is also participation manager for Badminton England, and holds sports advisory roles across the country, said the day had been a complete success. She said: “It is heart-warming to see young girls playing cricket so well at such a young age. It has been lots of fun and they are outside, playing, keeping fit and healthy, and learning new skills and everyone is getting along very well.

“Traditionally cricket has always been a game for the men and boys, but this is wonderful to see girls playing. Men and boys will just go out and play sport without a second thought, but girls are often taught to go to school, go to mosque, stay at home in some cultures, so this is truly a great opportunity to get involved. There is a clear pathway for progression in the sport.”

She said a scheme to recruit female volunteer cricket activators across Yorkshire was proving successful and new skills were being passed down to younger girls.

“We are seeing the next generation of inspirational sportswomen. It is great for their confidence and good to see that girls can take on and play cricket with their brothers confidently.

“Sport is a fantastic way to open up dialogue and get things moving,” added Halima, who works as an advisory to the recently established ‘National Asian Cricket Council’ (NACC), which acts as a supportive arm to the English Cricket Board (ECB), giving the Asian community a voice in all levels of cricket.

Also attending the event and coaching youngsters was rising cricket star and role model Katie Thompson, 19, who plays for semi-professional Yorkshire Diamonds team. Katie said: “At school age you can find that some girls have never held a bat before, but girls need to know that anybody can play this sport.”

Steve Archer, Yorkshire Cricket Board development manager, also attended and said he was impressed: “Girls cricket is going to be massive. It is a great opportunity for the sport in future.”

Jane Hildreth, manager of Yorkshire Diamonds added: “For any girls who do have a talent for cricket there is a clear pathway to develop that talent up to a top level.”

Schools taking part included Batley Grammar School; Carlton Junior and Infant School; Field Lane Primary School; Hyrstmount Junior School; St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School; Staincliffe C of E Junior School and Warwick Road Primary School. The overall winner of the day tournament was Carlton J&I School, who put up a good performance to win.

Major Stan Hardy attended the event to hand over a Duke of York’s Community Initiative Award to the Mount Cricket Club’s outstanding community involvement.

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