New Rover Cricket Club is a vibrant, community based club based in North Leeds. We are members of the Aire-Wharfe league.
We have always had successful adult teams, helped by some excellent facilities, particularly the cricket square is renowned as one of the better ones in the league.
In recent years, we have put a lot of effort into developing our junior section, helped initially by the All Stars programme. From a standing start, and despite the disruption from COVID-19 during 2020, we had a number of firsts: we fielded four U9s side on the same day and up to three U11 teams. Our U9 team won their local section of the condensed league season for the second year in a row.
We now have over 100 children registered under the age of 11 and we look forward to the return, when circumstances allow, of Friday evening training sessions, when the club is buzzing with youngsters.
The opportunities for junior development are in turn is helping our adult teams, and for the first time in 2020 we fielded an adult Sunday 3rd XI which gave some of our talented juniors opportunities to shine. Our 2nd X1 regularly fielded a number of our juniors, the youngest of whom were 12!
For 2021, we will also have a Saturday 3rd XI, making four adult teams in total.
We have a diverse membership, with c. 30% of our members being BAME. For 2021, 3 of our 4 adult teams will be captained by a player from a BAME background. We also have increasing numbers of female players, particularly in the junior section.
The benefits of cricket
Playing cricket is shown to have many benefits:
- Health and mental wellbeing benefits associated with outdoor sports
- Coordination is improved, particularly hand/eye coordination
- Social benefits from being a team sport
- Inclusion, both gender and ethnicity
The extra numbers of adult and junior members we have mean that our practice facilities are in urgent need of upgrade.
Our current practice net facilities are over 20 years old and showing signs of wear and tear, which means that they are becoming more dangerous with the vagaries of variable bounce. In addition, the orientation means that the bowlers' run ups are on the cricket outfield which means they are not usable when it is wet.
The net area is also relatively short, which makes it harder for the juniors to be able to bowl and difficult for coaching.
New nets are therefore essential for the club to continue to develop, and to retain members, particularly juniors for whom the current net facilities are not suitable, but also seniors who cannot use the existing facilities for significant periods in the year.
New nets would also give us the ability to attract new members, and could be rented out to other clubs in the community who don't have equivalent facilities. We are aware of a number of other clubs locally who would welcome such an arrangement.
We are therefore planning a new fully enclosed, three lane net facility and turning the existing nets 90 degrees such that the new facility runs adjacent to the boundary edge.
The impact of COVID-19
Like many organisations, COVID-19 had a significant impact on the club and meant that our income for 2020 was well below normal levels.
There was limited match day income, and no bar income or funds from barbeques or other events that we would normally run.
COVID-19 also added to our costs, with the need for extra sanitisation for example and enhancements required to the scoreboard, clubhouse and toilets to make them more COVID-secure.
In addition, the fundraising dinner that we had planned for May 2020 had to be cancelled and local organisations that would normally support us (cafes, restaurants etc) with prizes that we could auction at club events have been closed with staff furloughed, and therefore they have not been in a position to offer us support.
The cost of the new outdoor net facility is £46,500 + VAT, funds which the club does not have, and we are therefore fundraising to help pay for this.
Our aim is to raise £20,000 towards the cost of the nets.
We have a window of opportunity through the Sport England Active Together programme where they will consider matching up to 50% of our initial target, this could be worth £10,000 to us if we hit our target and our application is successful.
The balance will then need to come from club funds and loans available, though given the impact of COVID-19, the club has less funds than it normally would at this time of year, and so the more we can raise from crowdfunding and potential support from Sport England, the less we need to draw into these funds and the lower the loan amount we would need to take.
Some might ask why now for this project? The reality is that if we do not replace our existing nets in relatively short order, it will impact our ability to attract and retain players, and also service the needs of the local community.