09 Nov

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and LV= General Insurance (LV= GI) have today launched #Funds4Runs – a pioneering initiative aimed at helping the grassroots cricket community recover and rebuild financially following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The £1m investment, jointly funded by the ECB and LV= GI, will focus on key areas where access to cricket support or cricket itself has been limited – children from deprived backgrounds, diverse communities, disability groups and women's and girls’ programmes

The initiative, and LV= GI’s support, will also help deliver against three wider ECB objectives – delivering the purpose of ‘connecting communities and improving lives’ through cricket, increasing the relevance of cricket locally and growing long-term engagement with the game in these communities.

Financial support from the initiative will be accessible to affiliated clubs, All Stars Cricket centres, community organisations, county cricket boards and Cricket Wales.

The fund will show initial financial support with two live projects – expanding the existing All Stars Cricket programme and a new partnership with the British Film Institute.

All Stars Cricket provides a first experience for children aged 5-8 years old through eight 60-minute sessions, held over eight weeks, of fun, activity and skills development.

The programme is designed to introduce children to the sport, teaching them new skills, helping them make new friends and have a great time doing so.

All Stars Cricket is a paid-for programme but #Funds4Runs will fund facility hire in areas of deprivation and subsidised places for underprivileged children, in the first instance in Hayes and Canning Town in London, and Thurmaston just outside of Leicester.

This funding of All Stars Cricket projects will be extended to urban areas in every county region going forward.

#Funds4Runs will also provide cricket clubs across England and Wales with the opportunity to apply to enrol in a filmmaker programme – titled First Run – delivered exclusively in partnership by the British Film Institute (BFI). Successful applicants will undertake a course led by some of the country’s leading film professionals.

The training will allow them to create compelling films showing the unique character of their community and club as well as equipping them with editing, communication, digital and planning skills, enabling them to create a variety of exciting video content on behalf of their club – whether that is a YouTube channel or digital storytelling through the club’s social channels.

The successful applicants will receive professional level training to better promote themselves and their club’s activities, including other #Funds4Runs activity, as well as creating more links with the local area. Furthermore, they will also receive training on how to pass on their newly acquired skills to the wider club and community.

LV= General Insurance and its parent brand Allianz Group have a longstanding heritage and association with cricket. LV=’s involvement dates back to 2002 and includes three separate stints as title partner of the County Championship – 2002-05 (Frizzell County Championship), 2006 (Liverpool Victoria County Championship) and 2007-15 (LV= County Championship). Allianz Group, through its Cornhill brand, also sponsored Test cricket for 23 years between 1978 and 2001.

#Funds4Runs was launched at a virtual event hosted by Isa Guha and Michael Vaughan with professional cricketers from England’s men’s, women’s and disability teams – Mark Wood (pictured), Lauren Winfield-Hill and Jordan Williams.

With approximately 2.5 million male and female recreational cricketers across the UK, Mark Wood highlighted the importance of grassroots cricket across the UK after beginning his own journey to national honours at Ashington Cricket Club in Newcastle.

He said: “I am delighted to help launch #Funds4Runs. I know from my experiences as a young cricketer that grassroots cricket is the heartbeat of the sport and being given that opportunity to access cricket is crucial in building a love for the game.

“Like many other players, I’ve been concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the game so thank you to everyone at ECB and LV= for providing much needed support that will help English cricket to recover and thrive.”

Lauren Winfield-Hill added: “It really is amazing to see this level of support being made available to grassroots cricket across the country from the ECB and LV=.

“There was a real danger that the impact of COVID-19 could have caused a whole generation of young girls to slip through the cracks through lack of access. But it is great that this has been recognised with this initiative and its genuine focus on projects aimed at female cricketers.”

Jordan Williams said: “Cricket is a game for everyone and it’s fantastic that ECB and LV= are working together to ensure the game remains open to the most vulnerable during the pandemic.

Heather Smith, Managing Director of LV= GI said: “The impact of COVID-19 has been felt by everyone and the efforts of the cricket community to get the professional game up and running has been immense. However, at a local level, cricket has been less readily available or fundamentally more challenging to get involved in due to the pandemic”.

Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer said: “As an organisation and a sport, we are hugely dependent on the role which cricket clubs play in their local communities. At every level of the game, COVID-19 has presented some of the toughest challenges we’ve ever faced. I am mindful that in many areas the pandemic has taken its toll.

“That’s why I am really excited that through this new partnership with LV= we will be supporting the areas hit hardest, either through boosting participation or by helping clubs connect with their communities. Both LV= and the ECB are delighted to be working with the BFI to bring the latter to life.”

John Stephenson


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