At the heart of any vibrant community lies a shared space where families come together, forging connections and creating memories. For many of us, that space is the backyard (or garden), and for some, the game of cricket is a cherished tradition. In a diverse and multicultural society, it's essential that everyone has the opportunity to participate, connect, and enjoy these simple yet profound pleasures.
That's where the Family Backyard Cricket (BYC) project, funded by Innovate UK, comes into play. This initiative is about co-developing effective and entertaining cricket sessions designed to promote physical activity and social connection for Black and South Asian families. More than just a sporting endeavour, it is a means to strengthen bonds within minority communities, foster inclusivity, and promote healthy, active lifestyles. Dr Faatihah Niyi-Odumosu, a medical doctor and Associate Professor of Physical Activity and Health at UWE, Bristol, is an expert in developing physical activity interventions for ethnic minorities and leads this inspiring initiative.
Cricketqube – An Inclusive Innovation Leader
The current project aligns with the inclusive weekly cricket sessions that we run across the North East, with more than 100 participants from ethnic minority backgrounds. Cricketqube also co-founded the Ageing Lifestyle in Black and South Asian (ALiBSA) monthly webinar series along with Dr Niyi-Odumosu as a platform to health educate and self-empower older adults, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds. These initiatives, combined with our previous work with Innovate UK, where we co-developed a bespoke cricket service for older South Asians, have led us in the inclusive innovation space.
The Co-Developer Workshop: A Community in Action
To create meaningful and culturally relevant cricket experiences, the Family BYC project engaged with five co-developers, parents or grandparents, at the first co-developer workshop in Newcastle. This hands-on approach ensured that the insights and needs of the target audience were at the forefront of the project's development. Participants from Indian, Pakistani, and Afro-Carribean backgrounds shared their unique perspectives and experiences.
One of the co-developers, a 70-year-old, eloquently summed up the project's essence: "It allows me to be more active and brings them into contact with other families." Connection-building is a vital component of every BYC session, aimed at enhancing community ties and introducing a broader audience to the joys of backyard cricket.
The Importance of the Right Setting
For any activity to be successful, the setting matters significantly. The co-developers emphasised that venues should be chosen where people of a particular demographic feel comfortable. This includes places like school grounds or religious premises, which can provide a familiar and welcoming atmosphere. Stress-free environments are crucial, especially for children and older individuals.
The BYC project takes this feedback seriously, recognising the importance of selecting appropriate venues suitable for participants' comfort and convenience. After all, when individuals feel at ease, they can engage well with the activities on offer.
Addressing Barriers and Fostering Inclusivity
The test event also highlightedkey barriers to implementing BYC sessions. These included the hesitation of older females due to cultural and or religious views , lack of awareness of BYCand availability in terms of playing spaces.
The BYC project is keenly committed to addressing these challenges. Preliminary basic activities and valuable guidance are essential for the older generation. The aim is not to overwhelm but to gradually introduce everyone to the joy of backyard cricket. Furthermore, cultural considerations are paramount. Participants highlighted the importance of Halal food and the avoidance of alcohol (due to religious reasons) in cricket sessions. But if set up right, Family BYC will have a great impact. As one co-developer said, it will help “meet different people every day increase social interaction. BYC will help people to understand more about culture”.
Ensuring that all aspects of the sessions are culturally sensitive and inclusive is a priority for the project.
A Path Forward
The BYC project is determined to examine the feedback to improve accessibility and inclusivity in intergenerational sporting activities such as BYC. This includes exploring outdoor sessions and providing various activities and food options tailored to different cultures. The goal is to create an enabling environment where everyone feels welcome and valued.
Through innovative projects like the Family BYC, the team will provide valuable feedback and insights to participants irrespective of their age, sex, colour, culture, or religious beliefs. Empowering people with the knowledge of their health conditions, improving their quality of life, social engagement, and maintaining fitness is central to the project's mission.
Together, we can build stronger communities, one cricket game at a time.