The charity Panathlon has partnered with the England Cricket Association for the Deaf (ECAD) to expand its programme of sporting activity for deaf children.
ECAD and Panathlon will see schools for deaf and hearing-impaired children in Essex and East London enter into cricket competitions during the summer term.
They hope the partnership will allow both organisations to tap into a wider audience particularly ethnically diverse communities, enabling more deaf children to experience inclusive sport, go on to pursue cricket in mainstream settings and even potentially unearth England international cricketers of the future.
The addition of cricket will expand on Panathlon’s existing programmes for deaf students which already include swimming, boccia, ten-pin bowling, multi-sports and football.
Darren Talbot, Chief Executive of ECAD, said: “We’re excited to be working with Panathlon to support the delivery of cricket in deaf schools and schools with HI units as well as delivering competitions.
“ECAD is hoping to spread the word on deaf cricket to a larger audience. Currently we do not believe most parents are even aware of its existence.
“Our aims are to try to find a way to get the players involved in our deaf cricket pathway and to assist them in their cricketing journey within a mainstream 'hearing' environment should they also choose to go down that route.”
To raise awareness of this opportunity, England deaf cricket international James Dixon has been holding Q&As with schools via Zoom during the Covid-19 lockdown, giving pupils an opportunity to engage with, and be inspired by a deaf sporting role model.
The format of the summer’s cricket activities will depend on Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time; If pupils are still in school but severe restrictions remain in place, the activity will be ‘virtual’ within individual schools, delivered by staff. However if permitted, James and other England deaf cricket coaches will visit schools and deliver coaching and competition internally. Lastly if the virus has retreated sufficiently, there will be a multi-school cricket festival with eight schools competing in two pools of four.
Panathlon’s Chief Operating Officer, Tony Waymouth, commented: “We are delighted to be able to enhance our offer to deaf schools who engage with our wider deaf programme.
“Through the third UK lockdown it’s been great to have James Dixon and also England women’s rugby international Jodie Ounsley holding online Q&As with schools to give deaf pupils role models who share their disability and have reached the pinnacle of sporting achievement.”