National Cricket League keeping member clubs engaged
PUBLISHED: 14:00 15 May 2020
London’s National Cricket League has been keeping member clubs engaged during the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Recreational cricket is suspended indefinitely for the time being, with no professional action due to take place until July 1 at the earliest.
But the NCL has been working behind the scenes to ensure its players do not miss out.
Sajid Patel, League secretary and co-founder, has been volunteering for 22 years having engaged his first group of youngsters in the Leyton, Leytonstone and Walthamstow areas in 1998.
Having expanded to Newham and Redbridge, to use cricket as a vehicle to help young people grow in confidence to be in a position to play cricket, he set up Leytonstone Youth CC as part of the original club founded by his father Dilawar Patel in 1970.
Today the club is known as East London, Leytonstone & Frenford CC and Dilawar Patel received an Outstanding Service to Cricket Award (OSCA) for lifetime achievement in 2019.
Sajid and Nahed Patel, his fellow co-founder of the NCL, both came from his school of development and said: “I’m just trying to follow in his footsteps but I know it’s going to be a tough ask for me to achieve what he has.”
The NCL was founded in 2012 as a non-profit organisation and began with 14 adult social clubs.
They now have 56 clubs in seven divisions, with fixtures played in North, East and South London, across Essex, Middlesex and Kent.
Three clubs have traditional Club Mark set-ups with structured youth development, with the majority of teams made up socially from families, friends and club cricketers.
Patel said: “The aims and objectives are to identify ways of raising the profile and participation to the growth of the game, using cricket as a vehicle in building community cohesion as part of the bigger culture of solidarity and unity as one community.
“We have over 1200 playing members from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Afghanistani and many others playing cricket on Sundays from April to September where we provide over 700 fixtures in our Summer programme we offer from players who are as young as 14 years old to 65 years old.
“The demands continue to grow by providing a different flavour to other Sunday Cricket Leagues in delivering glamour of what we all witness on TV with county and international limited-over games played with white ball and coloured clothing.
“In additional to this, we have also changed the landscape and culture as many South Asian cricketers were playing their cricket at recreational park wickets managed by Local Authorities. With our concept, many clubs were able to secure sponsorship from local businesses within their network which provides them a licence to afford playing on better club facilities.
“At the same time, we have helped many traditional cricket clubs who have availability on Sundays, to provide and occupy full or half-season bookings by allocating to responsible Sunday teams/clubs.
“We have secured bookings with fixtures being played at many traditional cricket clubs as part of us exploring and building relations with these clubs and County Boards like Essex Cricket in the Community as partners along with associations with Club Cricket Conference and National Asian Cricket Council, we were able to expand our services outside the Sunday Competitive programme to engage with the wider audiences from children and young people, over-50s, women and girls and others.”
During the recent lockdown, using social media, a combination of shared videos by the NCL committee members have created a culture of positivity with over 2,400 followers on the league’s facebook page.
Patel added: “I have provided 20 videos for the last four weeks to share basic tasks and activities and filtering a real positivity not only to help me get through this to maintain my focus as a qualified level two ECB cricket coach, but encouraging many others around me to share knowledge and wisdom.
“Using this to share a real positive message for everyone to be active and try out cricketing or multi skill based activities as tasks, exercises and challenges for individuals and members of the household to try by being creative in games or exercises they can create at home.”
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