Eight months on from the award of a £300,000 grant from the Football Foundation, a summer programme of free-to-access activities for the young people of Cotgrave is has been completed, heralding the start of a three year commitment to improve prospects in the village.

Operated by the Trent Bridge Community Sports Trust, the charitable arm of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, a full-time co-ordinator and an extensive team of specialist coaches and leaders have offered recreational sports sessions and given children the chance to try activities of their own choosing for the first time.

“Everyone wants to do different things and we’ve found that not everyone is sport-focussed,” said scheme co-ordinator Mark Clifford.

“If there’s a demand for a particular activity then we’ll try and put it on and organisations have helped us to do that. Some like acting so we’ve arranged a drama club and a group of girls were keen to try horse riding so we did some research and found a contact at West Bridgford Equestrian Centre and arranged a structured programme for them.

“Some things are costly but we don’t charge anything because it gives children a great chance to try things and we hope that it will give them something to pursue long after the summer holidays have finished. We’re building links with leisure centres who are giving us discounts because they realise that the young people value their facilities and will become long-term users.

“We have had as many as 50 young people taking part in activities and there’s a real buzz. I spoke to the town clerk who told me that she hadn’t seen anything like this before in Cotgrave.”

Nottinghamshire are the only cricket club to operate a Positive Futures programme, a national initiative designed to give direction to 11-19 year olds identified as being at risk of committing crime or behaving anti-socially.

Whilst the activities are open to all young people resident in Cotgrave, a core group are given close attention after signing a commitment to work towards achieving agreed outcomes in partnership with their schools and their families.

“The cohort that we work particularly closely are a key part of the programme,” said Mark.

“We have to engage them and get to the stage where they look forward to going to bed early so that they can come and work with us the following morning.

“We’ve got the capacity to monitor 20 young people particularly closely. There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just misunderstood and the informal atmosphere that we provide means that we get a better reaction from them than they might get at a school. Teachers have a hard ride and they have to meet different needs which I’m aware of because I used to work in a school.

“It’s a great group we’ve got and we all bounce off each other and try and move things forwards as one big happy family.”

With 500 ten to sixteen year olds living on Cotgrave, the 143 signed up to the Positive Futures Summer Camp combined with 100 signed up to Leisure Centre Schemes means that almost half accessed organised physical activities in August alone.

“We’ve made activities available for them without charge that they wouldn’t have been able to do if we weren’t here,” said Mark.

“There’s a small group within that who attended every single session that we’ve run and there’s huge potential for us to grow this scheme.

“Kids can be challenging but we’re working with young people who have problems at school but give us 100 per cent effort and take advantage of the opportunities that we’re giving to them.”

For more information about the scheme, email mark.clifford@nottsccc.co.uk

This article first appeared in Covered, the official magazine of Nottinghamshire County Cricet Club.