London Youth Games launch new category at cricket event

Haringey's indoor cricket team face the camera

Haringey's indoor cricket team face the camera - Credit: LYG

A new 'aspire' category has been launched by London Youth Games to give more youngsters the chance to play cricket for their borough. 

And the indoor cricket competitions at Harrow Leisure Centre were the first time that the category was in action.

Some young Londoners miss out on the chance to take part in competitions due to ability or background, but the new tier aims to open them up to those who wouldn’t usually get the chance to be involved.

Afghan refugee Mudaseer had never played cricket in a team before, let alone at a competition, but joined the Westminster team, without knowing anyone, to play for his borough.

His father Behrooz explained: "He has never played cricket in a team before. He has only played cricket in the street, or in the garden at home.

"In the last couple of weeks, he has played with new people but it’s really new for him. It’s the first time at the London Youth Games and the first time he’s playing a match with others. He doesn’t know anyone but he’s really excited to play."

Newham's indoor cricket team face the camera

Newham's indoor cricket team face the camera - Credit: LYG

The cricket event gave over 200 boys under 13 the chance to play against other boroughs and as part of the changes, county players are no longer able to be part of the London Youth Games teams.

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Rodney Craig, Lambeth team manager, said: "The tiering system helps boroughs to encourage more young people who might have the fear factor around competing to get involved. This new tier system is helping them dilute those fears so it’s a good system to have.

"Once the tier system is embedded in, we’ll use London Youth Games as a good vehicle to get more girls and boys involved in cricket."

Raj Nath, Participation Manager at Middlesex County Cricket, added: "Having this new category without county players will give the boys a fun, enjoyable tournament for all youngsters. 

"It's all about giving the young boys an enjoyable experience of playing cricket and giving more of the team a chance to play."

Andy Dalby-Walsh, CEO of London Youth Games, said: "We strongly believe that sport is a right for all so we’re making changes to impact to the lives of young people who need it most. 

"The tiered competition framework will help reach broader audiences and give more young people the chance to benefit from sport for both their physical and mental health. This goes towards our vision to create the world’s largest and most inclusive city-focused Youth Games."

Action from the indoor cricket competition at Harrow Leisure Centre

Action from the indoor cricket competition at Harrow Leisure Centre - Credit: LYG

Tahmid, a participant from Tower Hamlets, said: "It was maybe three years ago when I didn’t even know what cricket was and then my friend got me involved. It’s changed my life from that moment on.

"London Youth Games means a lot to me. I can’t put it into words, that’s how amazing it is. Playing against other people: it makes you feel important."

Team manager Shakeel Ahmed added: "Cricket as a sport helps change lives. We know especially now that young people are stuck at home, sitting at home with iPad and games so anything that we do to get them out of the house, to get them active and get them involved is definitely going to have a positive impact on their physical and mental health."

The tier launches across various sports in 2022, from cricket to athletics to tennis. If shown to be successful, the new category will roll out to more sports in 2023.

Hackney and Havering were among the eight teams to make it through to the boys' finals, which will be played at Lord's on March 26.

Bexley, Harrow, Hounslow, Richmond, Wandsworth and Westminster also qualified.