A go-ahead local cricket club is on a mission to get kids in Wrexham playing the game again with an ambitious coaching and playing programme – paid for with cash seized from criminals.
Brymbo Cricket Club, one of North Wales’s most successful sides and the place where current Glamorgan captain David Lloyd learned the game, is hoping to unearth the next North Wales star.
They are launching a major coaching programme, Brymbo Community Cricket, in May involving 12 local schools thanks to a £2,500 grant from a special fund distributed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.
The Your Community, Your Choice initiative is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) which is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year.
It is the eighth year of the awards scheme and much of over £280,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The scheme is aimed at organisations who pledge to run projects to tackle anti-social behaviour and combat crime and disorder in line with the priorities in Commissioner Arfon Jones’s Police and Crime Plan.
This year there are 21 grants given to support schemes by community organisations with an online vote deciding the successful applicants from among the many projects submitted and over 32,000 votes cast.
The other successful projects from Wrexham County are Rhostyllen Under-15s football, who plan to upgrade their facilities and Chirk Town Council’s project for an outdoor gym, with each also being awarded £2,500.
Brymbo plan to bus youngsters from local primary and secondary schools to weekly coaching sessions supervised by their Welsh Cricket Association qualified coaches at their impressive Tanyfron ground.
Club vice-chairman and former opening batsman Dafydd Rhys said: “We have a great set-up here and we wanted to develop a relationship with the schools to get more youngsters, boys and girls, coming into the game.
“We have two fully-qualified Welsh Cricket Association coaches, Adam Meredith and Tush Maitra, who are available in the daytime and last summer we had up to 30 youngsters mainly from secondary schools here regularly.
“Lockdown has badly affected sport but hopefully the timing is right now to start organising for cricket again and I’m sure there will be lots of children crying out to take part.
“There has rightly been a lot of focus on young people’s physical and mental well-being and we want to play a part in helping improve that.
“We’re really grateful to the Commissioner for this grant which will allow us to bring the children to the ground every week and we’ve had a positive response so far from local secondary and primary schools.”
Brymbo have even put in contingency plans if a continued lockdown makes it difficult to transport children to the ground with their coaches and players standing by to make school visits instead.
The club have revamped their facilities with a grant from the England and Wales Cricket Board for new practice nets and hope to reach up to 300 children through the outreach programme which will run in May and June, climaxing in a competition for them all.
Club Secretary Jane Roberts, whose husband Nigel, the Club chairman, was a high-scoring batsman and Wales Minor Counties star, added: “The aim of our Club is to offer the opportunity to play cricket, free of charge, to youngsters in the local community; to give them the chance to play and socialise with peers in a fun, safe and supportive environment.
“We’re sure there’s plenty of talent out there. Cricket is a game that you can be involved in and enjoy for many years and we hope many of them carry on and do just that.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said: “I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects across North Wales for an eighth consecutive year.
“This unique fund allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support through our on-line voting system and the response has seen almost 15,000 members of the public vote for a total of 30 projects.
“These projects help to support my Police and Crime Plan whose purpose is to ensure that North Wales Police is paying specific attention to those points which have been identified as crucial by the public, me and indeed by the force itself.
“Many of you will be aware of the recent Third Sector consultation that I carried out which has resulted in an update to my priorities to include the ways in which we address emerging trends including Organised Crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
“As part of this I aim to ensure that a clear focus continues around county lines crimes – a particularly vicious form of criminality that exploits young vulnerable people into a life of crime which is extremely dangerous and violent and from which there is little escape.
“I am delighted to see that a number of your applications aim to address this issue and support our young people.
“Community groups are vital to the citizens of north Wales, and in helping to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.”
PACT chairman Ashley Rogers added: “Your community your choice is a really valuable way of supporting communities and putting the choice of which projects are supported in their hands.
“It’s a very democratic process which is why I think it’s been such a long running and successful scheme.
“It’s lovely project to be involved with and you can directly see the benefits from the funding in strengthening our resilient communities.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett said: “This money includes cash from assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is a particularly vital message as through the professionalism of North Wales Police Officers and with the support of the Courts, we are able to hit the criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.
“Our operations target all types of serious criminality including cross border crime, armed robbery, criminal use of firearms as well as drug production, importation and supply.
“Those who are involved in serious and organised crime often live well beyond their means, drive expensive cars, live in large houses and frequently holiday abroad; they may well be living lifestyles on the proceeds of crime.
“Our communities continue to play a part in this success with local intelligence information given to our officers that help us to bring these criminals to justice.
“It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good that’s being used for a constructive purpose.”