A cricket club that has helped produce Glamorgan player Lucas Carey and Middlesex fast bowler James Harris is set to create further opportunities for children and young people.
In recent years, Pontarddulais Cricket Club near Swansea has seen the numbers of children on its books increase. A further success has been the club’s growing popularity with girls.
But the club is bursting at the seams. With all those players needing to share a two-bay practice nets space, the club is struggling to cope.
However, help is on hand in the form of a £10,000 Be Active Wales grant from Sport Wales which the club will use to renovate an old disused three-bay practice net so that it can be brought back to life.
It’s another example of how money from Welsh Government and re-purposed funding from the National Lottery is being distributed by Sport Wales via the Be Active Wales Fund to help clubs not only survive the Covid-19 pandemic, but to come out the other side of it ready to offer even better opportunities than before.
Ben Roberts, Club Secretary, explains: “Covid has really knocked us but before it hit, we were in a great place. We always have an above average number of juniors signing up to the All Stars and Dynamos programmes. These programmes are for five to eight-year olds and eight to 11 year-olds.
“In 2019, we had around 81 children signed up for All Stars and 30 of them were girls. For the first time, the South Wales Junior Cricket League had set up a structured competition for girls at Under 11 and Under 13. Unfortunately, All Stars and the league competitions were cancelled because of Coronavirus but we had 14 girls who were lined up to compete and many others would have come through had we not been in the middle of the pandemic.
“It’s hard to know how many girls will return, once we come back from Covid, but all the signs were really promising.”
The club is keen to make the sport as affordable as it can, as Ben continued: “Just up the road from the club, we have areas that are more deprived. We don’t want cost to be a barrier to playing cricket.”
Ben also points out how the successful All Stars programme has revolutionised the sport: “Cricket does sometimes have a reputation for being an elite, upper class sport. All Stars has changed all that. It has really opened up the sport and loads of people now want to play.
“We have enjoyed big numbers of children - boys and girls - wanting to get involved. There is no way we could provide opportunities for everybody without the upgrade of the old practice facility.
“This is a long-term sustainable project for the community of Pontarddulais.”