Sussex Cricket, Sussex Cricket Foundation and 1st Central have launched a number of community initiatives since the Covid-19 pandemic. These projects underline their commitment to the local area during a difficult period for Sussex sports and charities and demonstrate the continued strength of the relationship after new and extended sponsorship deals last year.
The 1st Central Sussex Cricket League has grown to become the largest recreational cricket league in the world, comprising 340 teams and involving 2,046 matches last season. 1st Central and the Sussex Cricket Foundation were keen to keep the competition going this year despite the pandemic and launched the league in a new format after government restrictions were lifted. The 1st Central Cup saw 250 teams participate in 650 matches over a seven-week period beginning in August – representing the most cricket games in any county across the UK. 1st Central will be continuing its sponsorship of the league into 2021.
1st Central also sponsored the Sussex Cricket Foundation’s Umpire Challenge, a free Level One course introducing local people to the basics of officiating, which saw 170 people sign up and prizes awarded to the best performers.
Away from the cricket pitch, Sussex Cricket, in aid of the Sussex Cricket Foundation – with 1st Central’s backing – donated a host of exceptional items to the “Together Through This Test” auction. This was established by the ECB to raise money for local charities across England and Wales, with all items supplied by Sussex Cricket raising money for the Sussex Cricket Foundation, which in turn held the money in a fund to support the local community of Sussex.
The auction raised £35,000 nationally, of which £10,000 was raised by Sussex Cricket. These funds are currently held by the Sussex Cricket Foundation and will be used to support charities and local causes nominated by the people of Sussex. The first of these projects has seen the Sussex Cricket Foundation fund the delivery of 1,200 meals to families identified as being in food poverty in the Brighton and Hove area. Further projects will be announced over the coming months.
With the support of 1st Central, Sussex Cricket launched several initiatives aimed at Sussex CCC supporters to lift their spirits in the face of uncertainty and disruption. This included rerunning iconic matches online, asking supporters to write in with their memories of supporting the club for special website features, and Sussex CCC captains, Ben Brown and Luke Wright, making calls to life and elderly club members to check in on them during lockdown.
Sussex Cricket Foundation and 1st Central are also organising Covid Heroes awards to recognise the contribution of volunteers and local charities during the pandemic – with nominations and winners announced over the next couple of months.
“We’re deeply proud of our partnership with Sussex Cricket,” said Jo McGowan, 1st Central‘s HR Director. “As a large employer in Sussex, we pride ourselves on supporting the local community, and that’s why we’ve worked closely with the Foundation to help lift people’s spirits during such a difficult time for everyone.
“As a historic part of the Sussex community, we know Sussex Cricket has a unique role to play in supporting local people, and it’s been our pleasure to help them in launching a successful new format for the 1st Central Sussex Cricket League, raising money for local families in need and introducing disadvantaged young people to the game – all despite the disruption of Covid-19”.
Looking ahead towards 2021 , the Sussex Cricket Foundation plans to ramp up its Cricket Roadshow programme with the continued support of 1st Central. 1st Central funds the costs of a van that goes to schools and community events, encouraging local people to get involved in the game. It also intends to step up its Street Cricket initiative, where the van goes into disadvantaged neighbourhoods with coaches and equipment, providing young people with the chance to play the game.
The ambition is to stop cost being a barrier to cricket and to make a positive difference to the lives of young people in the most deprived areas of Sussex.
“We are extremely grateful for the continued support of 1st Central,” added Sussex Cricket’s CEO, Rob Andrew. “We have worked very closely over a number of years now and the value of this relationship has never been more important to us as we have dealt with such a difficult summer for so many people across the Sussex Cricket community and the whole of Sussex.
“Cricket plays a very important part in the sporting and social fabric of Sussex and we are pleased to play a small part in helping our local communities and look forward to continuing this work through the winter and into next summer, when we can only hope that everyone can get back together on cricket grounds all across the county.”
Sussex Cricket play at The 1st Central County Ground, Eaton Road, Hove BN3 3AN