All Out Cricket takes a look at the vital role that NatWest CricketForce plays in renovating and re-invigorating cricket clubs up and down the country.
When it comes to getting your ground ready for the cricket season it really does pay to start as early as possible.
Organising winter nets seems like the most pressing concern at this time of year, but neglecting vital renovation or improvement work ahead of the season, can have long-lasting consequences.
In recreational cricket, clubs are, as much as anything else, defined by their facilities and putting off necessary or desired improvements can discourage both existing and prospective players and cost the club more in the long-run.
For many clubs, of course, it is difficult to find the resources – both human and financial – to facilitate such projects. With just a few thousand pounds coming in on an annual basis, anything more than basic maintenance of the playing area or repairing a few fences can seem beyond many clubs’ reach.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. NatWest Cricket Force is an ECB volunteering initiative aimed at rejuvenating the nation’s cricketing facilities, and since 2002 it has been encouraging cricket supporters, their friends and families to give something back to their local community cricket club by volunteering to undertake major renovations to clubhouses and grounds.
Guiding you through the process of organising your event and drumming up support from volunteers and local businesses, CricketForce also offers you the services of its official partners, a long list of companies from the ground equipment and construction trade that offer fantastic discounts to any club that signs up to the initiative.
From just one club in its first year, CricketForce has grown beyond all expectation, and in 2010 a record 1,642 clubs and an estimated 85,000 volunteers took part in the three-day event.
It seems that more and more clubs are realising the benefits of CricketForce and, at time of writing, almost 1,000 clubs had already signed up for the 2011 event. Best of all, any club can get involved, and it is amazing what can be achieved with just a little bit of preparation and three days of hard work.
A great example of this was the experience of Derbyshire’s Ashbourne CC. Having signed up to CricketForce for the first time last year, Ashbourne managed to secure £1,500 funding from Waitrose, persuaded a number of local businesses to help out and even got the local mayor to clean their toilets!
With further support from 50 volunteers and even the town council, the whole community came together to paint the inside and outside of the pavilion, repair broken and rotten fascia, paint surrounding fences and generally clean up the club. Not bad for CricketForce novices.
Looking ahead to this year’s event, David Leighton, the ECB’s Club Programmes Manager, said: “The ECB target is to have 1,800 clubs participating in 2011 increasing to over 2000 in 2013. With the current financial climate biting hard, people are finding that by helping themselves, others are supporting and the most amazing results are being produced.”
Sound like something your club could do?
Get started on the road to CricketForce success by downloading the NatWest CricketForce 2011 step-by-step guide at www.ecb.co.uk/development/natwest-cricketforce
Whatever your query, whatever information you need, you can contact the CricketForce help desk via email at firstname.lastname@example.org