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Cultural Diversity

multitude of opportunities for character development as well as honing playing skills in a dedicated coaching programme; team building skills, leadership skills and a sense of community are natural by-products. Tenacity, the attitude of ‘having a go’, determination, respect, thoughtfulness towards others and the appreciation of our differences are among the many qualities that young cricketers exhibit. The more that sport can reflect and celebrate

break down boundaries and draw cultures together. One only has to look at Afghanistan in the World Cup. This is a team that has won the hearts of

techniques, pitch quality and even the weather conditions might be lost on youngsters new to the game. To fully understand the significance of cricket

and the sport’s role in changing and shaping society, one must consider the wider social contexts within which the game is played. Look through the county squads: a disproportionate number of players developed either abroad or through the independent school system. Cricket is simply not relevant to vast swathes of the country. The writer and former cricketer Ed Smith has

also documented how the game, has become dominated by independent schools. In 1987-88, of the 13 players who represented England on a tour of Pakistan, only one had attended an independent school. By contrast, in 2011 more than two-thirds of the team were privately educated – a situation that has not improved in the last few years. We have now reached a point where we are in danger of never again seeing a great state-educated player of the likes of Ian Botham or Andrew Flintoff. This player drought from the state sector is due in part to the selling off of playing fields and in no small part because of the financial pressures on delivering the national curriculum. A boost in national participation requires more

investment in state schools, greater flexibility in education and the implementation of coaching programmes that raise the game’s profile whilst nurturing cross-cultural communication. Local state schools should also work with local cricket clubs to use their grounds, facilities and coaches to get the most out of their communities. Across the world, cricket has a rich and diverse history and regularly demonstrates its capacity to

April 2015

cricket fans everywhere; not only for its ‘rags to riches’ story of players who started life in refugee camps before finding themselves on cricket’s biggest stage; but also for their talent and their determination to fight in every match they played. They have charmed cricket fans everywhere with their enthusiasm and their genuine excitement at having the opportunity to take on the world’s best players. Today, the terms ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’ are frequently used as mission statements or ideals. Do we really know the meaning?

In 2011, The Department of Education defined Equality and Diversity as: • Equality in its wider sense encompasses gender, race, disability, sexual orientation and discrimination on the grounds of age, language or social origin, or of other personal attributes, including beliefs or opinions, such as religious belief or political opinion. It is not about treating everyone the same; it is about recognising and respecting diversity and difference.

• Diversity is about embracing and celebrating the richness of society and ensuring that under- represented communities have a stake in it. It is about relationships and the creation of an environment in which everyone can thrive. It is also about valuing the unique skills, experiences and perspectives of every individual and finding ways to bring the best out of them.

The ideal of a diverse community is at the heart

of what we practice. We firmly believe that cricket is a sport for everyone regardless of age, sex, race or religion. It has the capacity to transcend cultural differences and promote inclusion. In schools, achieving cultural diversity through sport brings many positives; it allows children to learn more about each other, the world and its different customs. The UK is a country that is culturally, socially

and economically enriched by its multiculturalism so there is every reason to embrace this approach now and restore our faith in a truly integrated society. Our vision for school cricket is to increase access to school cricket through a well- coordinated coaching structure. There are a 27

the multi-cultural nature of Britain, the better. Chelsea football club have an interesting take on this. They have a ground-breaking Asian Star program which is the only initiative of its kind undertaken by a professional football club and is designed to give a much-needed boost to Asian participation at all levels of the game. Perhaps it is time for cricket at a national level to do the same for the sections of society that have been excluded. Maybe it can start with initiatives such as ours, where the aim is to build a diverse but cohesive group of participants who have the opportunity to reach their full potential and become positive role models within their communities. While schools are good at recognising and

dealing with diversity, we are still not doing enough to achieve a fully integrated society. Working with pupils from diverse backgrounds is about taking a holistic approach; an approach that regards them as individuals. It is about engaging in inclusive practices that give children a voice. It is about building a social community that has values and purpose; that recognises the individual values of those within the community. It involves learning about the worlds in which our young people live outside of school, through their own narratives and through the development of our understanding of the communities within our area. Sport in its purest form offers possibilities for

dialogue, camaraderie and the exchange of ideas in the spirit of mutual respect and fair play that everyone can apply on a daily basis far beyond the boundary of a sports field. With vision, inclusivity, commitment and investment, sport can redress the balance.

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