The impressive growth of cricket in Ireland is to receive a further boost with the announcement of a link-up with Sport Northern Ireland’s ‘Active Clubs’ initiative that will aim to get more players joining their local club teams in Northern Ireland.
Two new full-time posts, supported by funding from the National Lottery, will see Simon Johnston and Colin Manson join the staff of Cricket Ireland on a mission to increase cricket club membership across the north.
The Active Clubs project is a brainchild of Sport NI that will provide support to cricket to enable them to develop and implement innovative new programmes designed to get more people involved in sports clubs, particularly people from under represented groups. It will also support cricket in strengthening their coaching and volunteer workforce, which in turn will strengthen the capacity of clubs on the ground.
Cricket Ireland, in partnership with the Northern Cricket Union and North West Cricket Union, will support clubs and the grass roots scene in general and support, strengthen and expand this life-blood environment of the game.
Johnston, currently an Ireland youth coach, will have responsibility for clubs in the Northern Cricket Union, while Manson, who has worked extensively with Ulster Hockey, will look after North-West-based sides.
“I’m delighted to welcome Simon and Colin into their roles as Active Clubs Co-ordinators,” said Tim Simmonite, the National Development Manager of Cricket Ireland. “Clubs are without question the lifeblood of grass roots cricket, playing a hugely significant role on the player and participation pathways.”
Ireland’s participation in the last three World Cups has seen a major surge in numbers playing the game - indeed cricket is the fastest growing sport in Ireland - and Simmonite is confident these two new posts will continue that trend.
“These roles will look to build on the expansion in participation numbers realised over recent years, support clubs with their capacities to deliver and grow and create further chances for lifelong participation in our game,” he said.
“I hope clubs will be able to embrace the opportunity to work with the Co-ordinators and reap the benefits from the programme.”
The Active Clubs project will launch in mid-July and John News, Participation Manager from Sport Northern Ireland explained that he hoped the programme would “support and enable accessible and sustainable participation opportunities in and through sports clubs as this is vital to ensuring as many people as possible enjoy, engage and excel in sport in Northern Ireland.”
“By creating and supporting a network of Active Clubs Co-ordinators, SNI aims to promote lifelong participation in sport and physical recreation within sports clubs, with a particular emphasis on women and girls, 14-25 year olds, persons residing in areas of high social need and ethnic minority groups.”
“The opportunity to enhance and develop the coaching and volunteer base in addition to this is another excellent element of the Active Clubs programme, so helping to strengthen this invaluable resource for clubs into the longer term.”
“Sport Northern Ireland is delighted to see the roll out of the Cricket Active Clubs plan and we look forward to the further benefits this will bring to the sport of Cricket.”
Johnston and Manson will start their new roles next month.