A cricket club in Birkenhead has been awarded for its efforts in creating a more inclusive sporting culture.
Caldy Cricket Club chairman David Brown has been named the latest winner of the Voneus Village Cup Legend Award for his dedication and passion to sport and the Wirral community.
David, 44, has been a member of the club since the early 1980’s as well as chairman for the past 13 years.
He said: “We’ve got a lot of people who help out, so I just try and monitor and manage sections, and if needs be I fill in.
“We’re all just members and when people have the time, they do a bit more.”
Since his time as chairman, Caldy’s ground has been improved to the standards necessary for the top tier of club cricket, along with further crowdfunding for new facilities and the introduction of a policy ensuring every player regardless of team status or ability receives a free club kit.
David said: “We’ve just started girl’s cricket and we’ve been approved as an ECB disability champion club.
“One of our first team players plays for England’s Physical Disability side and another for England Learning Disability so we’ve got nice links there and we’re linking with local schools to encourage people to get more involved.”
While as chairman, David has also focused heavily on improving youth cricket at the club, with the aim of creating a production line of future players.
Since the late 2000s, he has moved junior training to Friday night – which is the marquee slot with access to the bar and barbecue – as well as creating a club identity by providing all junior players with free kits to match their role models in the first XI.
David also axed the fourth team in favour of a second third XI to provide competitive cricket opportunities for young players, and when the ECB launched its All-Star programme in 2017, he embraced the initiative with both hands.
He added: “We are inspiring a lifelong love and opportunity in cricket – that’s our approach to junior cricket at Caldy.
“We say to all of the junior coaches, every decision you make, whether it’s coaching, a bowling change, the batting order, has to be referenced back to ‘are we inspiring a lifelong love and opportunity in cricket?’
“We’re not bothered about results. So many juniors drop off at under-15s nationally; it’s about keeping them engaged and enjoying themselves.
“In 2019, we had a first team game where loads of people were away and but for the overseas professional, everyone in the side had come through the junior section - We didn’t win but it showed the pathway.”
It’s a strategy which has paid dividends for the club with 98 youngsters booked onto their all-stars programme for this summer and youth players at the core of their Village Cup side.
Caldy CC member and nominator, James Ashcroft, said: “Without him, our club would be nowhere near the financial situation we are in and wouldn’t be able to raise four teams every Saturday as well as an over 40s team and juniors from under-9s to under-19s.
“He makes sure we have a wicket cut, rolled and prepared to play on each week – doing the outfield himself – and raised funds for our facilities.
“I truly think there would be no club, or at least, the club would be nowhere near what it is now, without his hard effort and volunteered time.”
Caldy CC member Mark Wilkie said: “He is at the centre of everything that goes on at Caldy CC but never asks for any recognition in return. He works tirelessly in all areas of the club.”
“David has encouraged those with different abilities to be made to feel welcome at the club, helped by our star player, Chris Edwards, the England Learning Disability captain, and it is wonderful to play in such an inclusive environment.”
Aside from developing two new sections of the club in 2021, David is also planning Caldy’s 100th year anniversary celebrations, booking coaching masterclasses with professional cricketers Rikki Clarke, William Porterfield, and Steven Croft, and enjoying the club’s progression to the Cheshire and Clwyd regional final of the Voneus Village Cup.