Durham County Cricket Club is a first class, professional club with an international reputation for developing young talent – but no central facility for the county’s young cricketers. But following a successful Crowdfunder campaign last year all that is set to change, with the creation of a new nursery ground.
Local youngsters have helped Durham to win three Championships in six years and several have gone on to earn international honours. One in four graduates from the club’s academy have played at first class level and one in eleven have played internationally. But according to club spokesman Richard Dowson, at present they’re having to “beg, borrow and steal” local club ground to train aspiring cricketers, with women in particular finding it hard to access facilities.
“We want to create a facility onsite near our ground at Chester le Street to allow us to continue that development of young talent. We’ve got a proud record and we want to carry that on – enhancing our facilities will allow us to do that,” says Richard, adding that the new nursery ground will also allow the club to play a much bigger part in cricket in the community.
The club needed at least £150,000 if its dream of creating a nursery ground was to become a reality and, as Richard explains, unlike football, cricket is not “awash” with money. With promises of £100,000 in funding from the private and public sectors, first it needed to demonstrate grassroots support for the project and show some match funding. So the club turned to Crowdfunder to launch its First Class Futures campaign to raise £50,000 from the crowd.
“Crowdfunder was something that we’d never used before,” says Richard. “We thought this was a community project with so many strands to it that we hoped supporters and members and people in the community would get behind, so we thought it had a nice fit with Crowdfunder.”
The Crowdfunder campaign took a little while to build up steam, and Richard says they had to keep pushing the project and “telling the story” of what they were trying to achieve to keep the pledges coming in.
“But as we got closer to the target we certainly built a lot of momentum and the last six or seven thousand pounds came very quickly in the last couple of days.”
As well as pledges from individuals the club also had strong support from local businesses, including professional services company KPMG’s Newcastle office, Swinburne Maddison LLP Solicitors and Ryder Architecture.
The club ended up overfunding, raising £52,150. Further funding is still being negotiated but the money raised so far means that work can now get underway on this vital new facility for the club.
“At the moment we’re drawing up the specifications for the work that we need to do so we can go out to tender and get some quotes,” says Richard. “Laying the cricket pitch has got to be done in the summer, so it’s all systems go to get it done this year.”
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