A multi-cultural cricket community in Glasgow has remained connected through a shared love for the game and a commitment to enjoying the benefits of sport.
The three Wicketz hubs – established in Springburn, Pollokshields and Govanhill in 2018 and 2019 – have successfully used cricket to drive social inclusion and engagement in areas of deprivation*.
When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced all Wicketz sessions to be frozen, project coordinator Nauman Javaid and his colleagues at Cricket Scotland had to use their imagination and initiative to keep the community engaged – with remarkable results.
Not only has Nauman helped participating children to stay active in their homes during lockdown, he has enabled parents to continue to develop as volunteer coaches – and even helped some of them find employment after losing their jobs due to the impact of the pandemic.
Wicketz, created by the Lord’s Taverners charity and delivered by Cricket Scotland with support from Spirit of 2012 and Achieve More Scotland, was one of 17 partnership projects selected in 2018 as a partner in the £1million Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity fund. The project is also a beneficiary of National Lottery funding.
Ammar Ashraf, Cricket Scotland community engagement manager and a Changing Lives Champion, was the driving force behind Wicketz and developing people was at the heart of his vision.
He believes the project powerfully demonstrates how a commitment to empowering communities can achieve this – embodied by the work led by Nauman Javaid during lockdown.
Nauman has made almost 200 connections a fortnight including calls and messages via phone, WhatsApp, Zoom and Teams, to keep participants connected. He also helped out by delivering food parcels to families in need.
Bats, balls and frying pans
Ammar said: “Ever since the start of lockdown Nauman has made sure to keep the Wicketz community connected across the three hubs.
“It started by making sure we had contact details for everyone and then reaching out to them. We wanted to take a community-led approach so we asked them how they would like to keep in contact and most people chose WhatsApp. Zoom and Teams came in later on.
“Nauman was very proactive in keeping in touch regularly with children and parents in each of the hubs, and soon there was a regular series of Zoom sessions.
“It was really simple stuff – keepie-uppies with a bat and ball and, for those who didn’t have a bat, a frying pan or anything they could get their hands on.
“Nauman is really good at using initiative in his coaching style and he kept the kids amused and active at the same time, which was very important as they were shut off from the wider community in these unusual circumstances.”
Apart from providing physical and mental health benefits through these indoor physical activity sessions, the Wicketz team also wanted to maintain the educational aspects of the programme that had previously been offered.
Ammar added: “The lifestyle workshops programme continued, and in fact the Glasgow hubs had the largest number of workshops in the past 12 months of any project in the Lord’s Taverners network.
“There were more than 140 participants and the workshops ranged from first aid, nutrition and other educational subjects like vitamin D, type II diabetes, comic writing, climate change and renewal energy. We had speakers from different areas of the community, including charities.
“Nauman has also continued to deliver coaching workshops, helping the parents who want to coach with introductory coach education sessions, but not only that – he has gone above and beyond to make a wider positive difference within the community.
“He joined up with some volunteer groups such as Helping Hands and Active Life Club, and helped to deliver lunches to school kids within his local area, helping families who had been identified within the community as needing support.
“Nauman has also made some commercial contacts in local business and when the sessions came back for a couple of months in 2020, a lot of the kids had been struggling to get outdoors due to the bad weather. He negotiated a deal with a clothing provider to provide a huge discount on rain jackets.”
Keeping children active is clearly the overriding priority of Wicketz, but the support provided to their parents even extended to helping them find work.
Ammar added: “Nauman’s support has gone further than anyone could have expected. Through his business connections he even managed to help five parents within the Wicketz community to find work after they’d lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
“Those people are now in full-time work, which is fantastic and it’s all because of the strong community spirit that has existed ever since the start of the Wicketz project.”
Find out more
- Changing Lives – further support for organisations to understand and use this approach
- Why a Changing Lives approach is more important now than ever
- Be person centred – listen to your communities and put their voice at the heart of your thinking
- Be responsive – respond to local need through your activities
- Be collaborative – developing partnerships with sporting and non-sporting organisations to bring in new knowledge and experience
- Interested in getting involved in cricket? Visit Cricket Scotland online
- Playing Our Part 2019: Wicketz case study