(Reuters) – The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday issued an update to its action plan to tackle racism and discrimination, focused on plans to aid the progress of players from diverse or underprivileged backgrounds into professional cricket.
The plan was unveiled in November after a number of players, including former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq, alleged they were victims of institutional racism at their clubs. The ECB provided a first update to that plan in January.
The ECB’s latest update outlines plans to expand the African-Caribbean Engagement (ACE) programme, an independent charity looking to provide opportunities to cricketers from Black communities.
The ACE programme, which was launched in Birmingham and Bristol in 2021, will be expanded to Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds and additional London boroughs.
The update also includes an expansion to the Community Talent Champions programme, as well as the provision of 3,000 coaching bursaries and a monetary contribution to combat financial barriers from entry to the sport for young cricketers.
“The bursaries will be targeted towards people from ethnically diverse communities, women and people with disabilities, offering the opportunity to gain the entry-level qualification required to lead coaching sessions,” the ECB said in a statement.
“We are committing an initial amount of 1 million pounds ($1.31 million) to reduce financial barriers for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access the talent pathway, particularly at County Age Group level.
“We will work closely with counties over the coming months to identify … where this funding will have the greatest impact, which could include the provision of equipment, support with travel costs, or access to facilities.”
The ECB also provided an update on its review of dressing room culture, the final report of which is due in September, saying it will be conducted by UK business management consultancy EY Lane4.
The British government has supported a parliamentary committee’s recommendation to limit public funding for cricket unless the sport can demonstrate continuous progress in getting rid of racism.
($1 = 0.7610 pounds)
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)