Last year Sheffield was selected as a pilot city, receiving £145,000 from the English Cricket Board (ECB) to install ten artificial cricket pitches across the city, but Firth Park was not chosen as a location for the project.
A group of men living in the Firth Park area have been meeting up every week to play cricket together in Firth Park. With support from their local councillor Abdul Khayum, they contacted Sheffield City Council, who took their case forward with the ECB and the Yorkshire Cricket Board (YCB)
After hearing the determined and passionate views of the local group the ECB awarded the council a further £9,500 to put in an extra wicket in Firth Park.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “As part of our ambition to become the most active city in the UK by 2020, it’s essential that we accommodate our residents’ needs and preferences for sport and physical activity.
“Since we completed the pitches in other parks across the city last year, participation in cricket has soared so I’m thrilled that the ECB and YCB have recognised the importance of good cricket facilities for this community. It will make a huge difference, not only in encouraging this group to continue playing but also in attracting even more people to the sport.”
The money was agreed earlier this month by the ECB and work is expected to begin in April 2019.
Local cricketer, Syed Naveed Hassan who leads the Cricket Group, said: “This group has been playing cricket in the park for more than ten years as it is a sport that we love to play. We have been using an almost ‘make-shift’ facility which is not really fit for purpose and so we are absolutely delighted that we will now have a proper pitch to play on which will attract even more young people to the park.
“The new pitch will make a huge difference, because during summer, families and young children can join in the fun. It will certainly help to take some youngsters off the streets and into the park.
“Cricket is a very popular sport amongst our community and Firth Park is one of the best local parks in Sheffield which is widely used by all local communities. So now we will have the best of both worlds.
“We would like to thank Councillor Abdul Khayum who helped and supported us all the way and of course Sheffield City Council for making it happen. The original idea of approaching the Council came from Mr Mohammed Nazir, a cricket enthusiast and local solicitor to whom we are also grateful.”
People looking to have a go at cricket can use the free public facilities at following parks:
• Graves Park
• Bents Green Playing Fields
• Warminster Road
• Ecclesfield Park
• Mather Road
• Hollinsend Playing Fields
• Westfield Old School site
• Don Valley Bowl
• Meadowhead School