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Council helps city cricket club bounce back from vandalism and racism

Cricket Wales development manager Mark Frost and Cllr Jennifer Burke, Cardiff Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks, Events and Venues, formally open the new nets at Llandaff Fields

TWO YEARS ago, at the end of a successful season, Llandaff Cricket Club was looking forward to a bright future, introducing the sport to women, boys and girls, in addition to continuing its senior teams’ rise up the local league tables.

Then, in October 2022, the club was attacked by mindless vandals who broke into its pavilion at Llandaff Fields, damaged its equipment and sprayed far-right graffiti on the walls, horrifying the club members, many of whom had spent years developing it into a mainstay of the local community.

Undaunted, the club resolved to bounce back stronger and embarked on a crowd-funding campaign to replace the equipment and, with the help of Cardiff Council which owns Llandaff Playing Fields, negotiate a 25-year lease, putting it on a secure footing for ongoing development.

Now, the future for Llandaff Cricket Club looks bright once more.

A key part of its recovery has been the creation of a new practice nets facility that overlooks its ground at Llandaff Fields.

Situated on land once taken up by unused tennis courts, and developed with the help of England and Wales Cricket Board, Sport Wales and Street Games Wales, it is as good as any of the artificial surface nets at the nearby headquarters of Glamorgan Cricket Club and was unveiled in a ceremony at the weekend attended by Cardiff Council leader Cllr Huw Thomas and Cllr Jennifer Burke, the Cabinet member for Culture, Parks, Events and Venues, along with the area’s Assembly Member, Mark Drakeford, and the Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan.

In a speech at the event, Cllr Thomas praised the efforts of the council team which had repaired and decorated the pavilion to remove the offending graffiti, bringing it back into use for this season. The team also helped the club organise the lease of the land, which includes a parcel earmarked for a new pavilion.

Cllr Thomas also praised the club members who had worked hard to ensure it has emerged from the trauma stronger than ever.

He said the council wholeheartedly backed sport right across the city, hailing it as a ‘silver bullet’ which can bring communities and generations together, enhance social cohesion and embody the authority’s ‘Stronger, Fairer, Greener’ ethos.

On hand to test the new facilities and put some of the club’s junior members through their paces, was Glamorgan professional Prem Sisodiya. “My father was a part of this club back in the day,” he said, “and I know that it’s a huge part of the community, with its training sessions for youngsters every Friday night.

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“To have facilities like this is absolutely massive in introducing youngsters to the game and bringing them on,” he added.

Llandaff Cricket Club was formed by a merger of Cardiff Gymkhana Cricket Club and Welsh Asians in September 2019 and now serves a diverse array of cricketers including vast swathes of Cardiff’s South Asian community.

The club has grown and diversified rapidly in recent years, from 13 teams across all genders and age groups in 2021, to 20 in 2023. It now has around 200 members. This includes a sizable growth in the club’s female player-base, which the club says is currently one of its top priorities.

Club chairman Sohail Rauf said that the club’s recovery “proves what can be achieved when communities come together and work in partnership with local representatives and political leaders.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who helped make this happen. Our members, our volunteers, our sponsors, our founders, Cardiff Council and everyone who donated to and shared our crowdfunder. We reserve special thanks to the advice we’ve received from Cricket Wales whose support has been immense.

“Ultimately what this means is greater access to safe, outdoor team sports for children in central Cardiff regardless of their circumstances. That can only be a good thing for our community.”

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