15 years ago, we designed and installed an indoor cricket training facility for The Change Foundation, an organisation whose mission is to improve the lives of marginalised young people through the power of sport. We take a keen interest in what happens to our structures over time and last month, went back to see how this one is looking and find out more about how its usage has evolved.

Following the Brixton riots in 1981, the originally called London Community Cricket Association was established and used street cricket as a tool to promote peace and cohesion in the Lambeth community. They began setting up projects aimed at getting unemployed young people to train as coaches and community sport leaders.  What followed was a number of other initiatives that supported young offenders, the visually impaired and those with special needs.  

The cricket centre is the hub of this charity and the indoor facility was intended to open up their agenda so they could launch the Refugee Cricket Project, which engages children seeking asylum by giving them the chance to develop their cricket skills and meet their friends in a safe environment.  This space also allows coaches and professionals to deliver mentorship and support regarding welfare issues and asylum claims.

The refugee project continues to thrive, as does the facility, and since it opened, it has become a multi-sport venue to introduce walking netball, intergenerational table tennis, dance and parasport to the broader local community.  

It has become a central venue for the Girls Win programme, which uses sport as a way to empower young women and girls living with a disability.  The facility is a safe space and comfortable environment in which they can build lasting friendships and improve their physical and mental health.   

The charity also uses it as a learning space for training their volunteers how to teach sport to the visually impaired and there are plans afoot to start a programme of wheelchair sport.

Local cricket clubs and coaches get to use it too as an extension of their own facilities, allowing them to train throughout the year when bad weather and poor light might otherwise limit their options.  Schools in the area have been able to expand their programme of physical activity by offering pupils a venue that is in great condition, unlike many of the concrete spaces available to them outside the classroom.  

We are so impressed with the impact this indoor cricket facility has had on the community and even more impressed with the way in which The Change Foundation has been looking after it.  All it has taken is a deep clean of the fabric every few years to remove any build-up of dirt and a bit of respect when using the retractable curtains or pulling back the nets and it looks like it’s got another good 15 years ahead.  

The recent government announcement that £35m is to be invested in grassroots cricket to increase the opportunity for children from state schools and those with special educational needs to play cricket is a huge step forward in making the sport more inclusive.  Much like the facility we built for The Change Foundation, the 16 new indoor cricket domes that have been proposed will help to connect communities and therefore have a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of so many.  Cricket has a unique ability to give people a sense of belonging since it is a sport that transcends generations, reaching beyond social boundaries in a way that few other sports can.

We’re excited to see how much cricket grows over the next few years and the community cohesion it promotes as a result.