Partnership oversees growth from project to new team launch.
A partnership between national disability charity United Response, Baildon Cricket Club and International Mixed Ability Sports (IMAS) has seen an eight-week project transform into a permanent Mixed Ability offer.
The weekly sessions over the summer were instigated by United Response Service Manager Lou Richardson and Director of Cricket at Baildon Darren Wilson. What initially began as some coaching sessions for people with disabilities and autistic people supported by United Response, has grown into a vision of a Mixed Ability team embedded in the Baildon Club.
Inspirational coach James Butterfield has developed the weekly sessions to take into account player needs and is creating a pathway for some of the new participants to compete at senior level cricket. The variety and fun element of training has seen the number of players grow week on week.
James starts the sessions with an enjoyable warm up
Director of Cricket Darren spoke about how the idea developed, “We share the site with Baildon Rugby Club, and I had seen their Mixed Ability team the Bumble Bees. I got talking to some of those guys and thought, maybe we could do the same in cricket. When Lou came along and proposed that we could run some summer sessions the idea just snowballed. I’m really proud of the way the club members enthusiastically got on board.
New player and IMAS trainer Obaid Malik has lived experience of disability and spoke about what it means to him to become a member of a cricket team. “I used to play at school, but I never got chance to play in a club, this is a new experience, I’ve met so many new people and made new friends.”
Obaid travels to the sessions with personal assistant Amjad, and he spoke about his own previous cricket involvement. “I used to play in the Bradford league till I broke my arm, that combined with my age (60) meant I needed to find more social cricket. Coming here with Obaid has been an amazing opportunity to re-involve myself in the game.”
IMAS Co-founder Mark Goodwin said, “Mixed ability sports sessions are different from the tradition of a separate disability sports offer. So, people with disabilities are coming to play cricket but they’re playing alongside and with members of the cricket club, volunteers, staff and personal assistants. This changes the traditional status quo of ‘support worker’ and ‘supported person’, they become teammates. What’s happening at Baildon CC is nothing short of revolutionary.” It’s a great partnership between our organisations, and I look forward to building on that” he added.
United Response Support Worker Zeshan Najeeb echoed Marks comments, “I think these sessions are brilliant. I come from a sports background and it’s good that we do some kind of physical activity, plus it’s good social bonding for people we support.”
Baildon Cricket’s involvement with Mixed Ability is bringing positive change to the club, with a long-term goal to get a permanent MA team set up so they can play regular matches. The club now opens the bar every Tuesday evening for participants and people supported by United Response.
Spectators and players appreciate the facilities
Lou explained, “we have people who solely attend for the social element and to enjoy watching cricket on a warm summer evening in a community setting. Baildon (CC) were originally a bit out of their comfort zone and It’s fantastic to see their growing commitment to membership of the people we support.”
A final word from new cricketer Marie who has a learning disability and attended the latest session, “I love coming here, it makes me happy, it makes me feel in a good place” she said.