A CRICKET project is hitting anti -social behaviour for six down at Redditch Cricket Club.
‘Wicketz’ is targeted at local youngsters with the aim of introducing them to a fantastic sport, building friendships, keeping them out of trouble – and having fun.
The programme, which is set up by sports charity Lord’s Taverners, is designed for eight to 16 year-olds to develop social cohesion and develop crucial life skills – as well as helping community clubs like Redditch CC.
Wicketz national manager, Dan Wilson, said: “The project is much more than just getting young people playing cricket. It provides wider opportunities to improve their own quality of life.
“Cricket is the attraction but from there we can really help develop their personalities through a variety of workshops.
These included local police officers teaching the youngsters about the dangers of hate crime.
“Wicketz is not a short-term fix. Our aim is to leave a legacy in every area we visit and Redditch is no different,” said Dan.
One enthusiast is Waqar Iqbal. Aged 15 he’s also developed into a bowler for Redditch CC.
He said: “I play Wicketz at Redditch Cricket Club every Tuesday at 5.30pm and I really enjoy it.
“It’s all about bringing the community together. It gets people laughing, socialising and more importantly keeps them out of trouble.
“Wicketz has helped me in my personal life and hopefully given me friends for life.”
Mark Chappell, Safer Neighbourhood Inspector in Redditch, said: “I sometimes come down and watch them play.
“At the beginning I’d turn up in my own clothes to make sure the children felt comfortable. After a while I could attend wearing my police uniform because the trust was there.
“Most of them have changed their minds on how they view the police now and that’s really important. We want to break down barriers and make sure they realise we’re there for them.”
The delivery of this project has been aided by support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL).
Players of PPL play with their postcodes to win cash prizes while raising money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and internationally, and their support of the Lord’s Taverners has helped to ensure that Wicketz can be delivered in Redditch.