Creating the Right Environment

On a Saturday morning, Thornton Heath Leisure Centre is a sea of smiling faces. Across four high tempo street sessions, up to 140 young people experience the joy of cricket every week.

This was a distant dream back in 2016, when Asad Butt set up the project with fellow coach Harshil Travedi, to address the lack of cricket in the area. “I was born and raised in Croydon,” says Harshil, “one of the reasons I started coaching was because I never had the opportunity, I had to go to the Oval to get coached.”

There couldn’t be a better example of cricket being a game for all. The project boasts participants from across the globe, whilst coaches speak 5 different languages to ensure that communication isn’t a barrier.

“Years ago, when we started playing cricket in this area, we didn’t have any facilities, we did not have any ground or hall available to us,” says Asad, “now we have developed into a club which offers facilities to everybody.”

We spoke to some of the parents and young people at the Croydon Street project to find out why they return to the sessions every week.

The coaches have created a welcoming environment:

“He came here and he didn’t know anybody. That didn’t make a difference, he fitted straight in. It’s just one of those building blocks of his social confidence. He knows now that he can go into a space where he doesn’t know anybody but there is a common language of sport and a common language of cricket.”

Jimmy Leach (Parent)

Children of all abilities are catered for:

“Cricket really does improve the confidence of children. The great thing about the coaching is it sets it at the level of the child so it slowly increases their skill and the skills increase their confidence.”

Furuan Ali (Parent)

All children are supported to enjoy themselves, learn something new and develop as people:

“Sometimes I don’t want to leave”

Maryam (age 9)

“I feel like I have a future in cricket”

Umar-Farooq (age 10)

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