Partnerships helped to strengthen England’s cricket: Andrew Walpole

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LONDON - England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) General Manager for media relations, Andrew Walpole, has revealed how the board had revived English cricket in the mid-1990s.

“We had long been the No.1 summer sport, but then we realized we needed to work very hard to maintain that position,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Walpole, as saying.

Walpole said that community interest was falling, funding was harder to come by and kids were choosing other sports, but in 1997, the ECB changed the scenario by being ready to take calculated risks.

“That turning point enabled us to form a proper strategy to build the game and to work with government and other bodies to ensure funding,” Walpole said.

The ECB started ‘Chance to Shine’, now a 25 million pound program promoting cricket in schools, and policies as the ‘Natwest Cricket Force’, an annual event at which clubs are encouraged to use local support to improve their facilities.

“People help put a new roof on the pavilion, paint, redecorate or help to prepare the ground. It’s fantastically successful. Nationally this year we had about 80,000 people involved at 1600 clubs,” Walpole said.

“In the past four years, we’ve put 30,000 people through our coaching programs. That’s enough people to fill Lord’s,” he added.

The General Manager further emphasized that cricket’s foundation can be strengthened by building partnerships.

“In 2009, we saw a 15 per cent jump in participation in our focus clubs to about 6000. Cricket is now played in 8000 schools. We’re now looking at how we can get the schools and clubs to work closely,” Walpole said.

“We’re working better with local authorities, sporting bodies, funding agencies and with sponsors and government,” he added. (ANI)

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