A new community sports initiative was launched at Lord's Cricket Ground, the 'Home of Cricket', today (14 May) aimed at engaging over 1,000 disabled young people across 16 London Boroughs. In partnership with the Berkeley Foundation, the Lord's Taverners Disability Cricket Championships (LTDCC) will provide - for the first time - a regular year-round competition and coaching programme for young disabled Londoners.
According to national figures, only 18% of disabled people take part in sport at least once a week compared with 39% of non-disabled people. While 70% of disabled people claim they would like to participate in more sporting activities, 60% cite a lack of available opportunities as the main barrier to them doing so.
The LTDCC will address this gap in cricket provision by providing access to regular coaching and competition in local communities, specifically targeting those aged 14 -25 with a limiting disability to help develop confidence, motivation, self-esteem and communication skills. Local people will be trained to become qualified coaches, making the programme both self-reliant and sustainable.
The UK's leading youth cricket and disability sports charity, the Lord's Taverners, will deliver the programme in an innovative partnership with the County Cricket Boards of Essex, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey, with support from Interactive - the initiative to help achieve disability equality in sport.
"If the legacy of this competition is lifelong participation and enjoyment of the game then we can all be very proud." Ian Martin, ECB Head of Disability Cricket
The revolutionary programme is being supported by the Berkeley Foundation - for the next three years, with additional support from the Wembley National Stadium Trust and Sport England. The LTDCC will initially be launched in Southwark, Hackney, Greenwich and Tower Hamlets before being rolled-out across another 12 London boroughs later this year.
Rob Perrins, Chairman of the Berkeley Foundation said: "We are thrilled to support the Lord's Taverners with this Disability Cricket Championships. This will bring great opportunities to young people to get involved in this great sport".
ECB Head of Disability Cricket, Ian Martin, said: "The ECB is delighted to support this exciting new programme for youngsters with a disability. Through this competition disabled cricketers across the capital will be able to access the sport in their local area, many for the first time, and who knows, they might end up representing England in the future. If the legacy of this competition is lifelong participation and enjoyment of the game then we can all be very proud".
Paul Robin, Chief Executive of the Lord's Taverners added: "The Lord's Taverners has a proud history of supporting disability cricket. This is an exciting new project and it is fantastic having many partners work together to deliver this programme which will create new pathways and opportunities that do not currently exist. We look forward to seeing many more young people with disabilities access cricket over the coming years".