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03 September 2021

Fast and furious summer of sporting events aim at engaging young people

Cricket programmes proving popular

The Hundred Series was a fast and furious summer cricket competition played in England and Wales that involved some of the biggest stars of the women’s and men’s game. The double header matches attracted a wide audience and were supported by the BBC and Sky.

Against this backdrop, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has reported that 101,000 young people have played All Stars and Dynamos cricket, seeing more participation and diversity of participants at recreational level than ever before. The two National programmes are designed to cater for 5 to 11-year-olds. The ECB also pointed to strong growth in the adult recreational game this year, with 10,000 more fixtures played than in the 2019 Cricket World Cup summer.

Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, said: “It is inspiring to see so many young people playing cricket this year. At all ages, record numbers have taken to the field, with more players and more fixtures than ever before.

“This provides cricket in England and Wales with a strong platform to build from in future so that we can encourage even more people to pick up a bat and ball.”

With the end of the six-week Racing League team competition, which was pitched at attracting new audiences and Racing to School delivering a record number of events this summer for Pony Club members, racing is also ambitious in using its assets to engage new fans. Racecourses will also no doubt come back stronger from the pandemic with their family-orientated days next year. Obstacles around participation and a national strategy persist but the sport can learn much from the acceleration of cricket in entertaining and inspiring the next generation.

End of inaugural year of Racing League series

Yesterday was the final day of the Racing League team competition. The six meetings were held at four racecourse locations with each race worth £50,000. The new initiative saw 12 teams each consisting of two to four trainers, 30 horses and three jockeys compete weekly against one another. The competition was close throughout with the lead changing 12 times, with Team TalkSport winning the league and Jack Mitchell taking the Top Jockey prize.

The two charity partners were Racing to School and Sporting Chance. Community and education-focussed activity during the Series included Autism in Racing, Careers in Racing, Take the Reins and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR). Each fixture hosted an RoR parade, showcasing local retired racehorses to racegoers. On raceday two at Doncaster, the Racing League was joined by the first Autism in Racing pilot event.

Careers in Racing and Racing to School attended all the race days with racehorse simulators to give young people a chance to have a go at riding in a race and giving advice on how to get into racing. League partner, the Racehorse Lotto generously supported Racing to School by promising 10% of all ticket sales from the Racing League raffle , where one lucky winner owns a racehorse for a year.  Congratulations to Derek Candy who bought the winning ticket.

Take the Reins aims to engage, support and improve outcomes for people and communities through and in racing and sport more widely. The charity worked in partnership with singer Heather Small who brought the #UnitedAgainstRacism campaign to Lingfield Park on raceday two. The charity also took an all-female football team from Kick Action to Windsor racecourse where they experienced the world of racing for the first time on raceday three.

Sky Sports Racing were the ever-present broadcaster, with celebrity guests, including Michael Holding and Karen Carney. The Series was covered in its entirety by TalkSport, whose team took home the title.

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