One of the driving forces behind the Haydn Road Community Cricket Club has lauded the impact it has had on local residents, after the project won the Inclusivity Award at the ECB’s Business of Cricket Awards.

Saimah Zaharah, a cricket agent based in Nottingham, played a key role in liaising with the community in Basford to discover exactly what they wanted from a sports facility.

In its first three months, the club attracted over 220 women to sports sessions, while 70% of attendees were from a South Asian background – figures that Zaharah believes are testament to the impact the club has had in its first year.

“We wanted Haydn Road to be something for the whole community, and the club has certainly delivered on that," she said.

“It's been particularly good to see how many women have found that cricket can be a game for them. You see women from all kinds of backgrounds – including those from the Asian community and older women – mixing together and taking part in boot camps and softball cricket.

“There’s a lot of talk about getting women involved in sport, with initiatives like the This Girl Can project; I can’t think of any better example of that than what we’ve been able to achieve at Haydn Road.

“Where we’ve got to in the first year is fantastic – and I’m so excited to see what we’ll be able to do when summer rolls around again.”

The opening of the Haydn Road facility was the fruit of an 18-month research project, with Nottinghamshire’s Community and Development team taking the time to engage with urban communities to understand how a ‘modern-day’ cricket club – without a traditional hardball team – could operate.

“Where we’ve got to in the first year is fantastic – and I’m so excited to see what we’ll be able to do when summer rolls around again.”

Saimah Zaharah

Zaharah was quick to compliment the work of all involved in its establishment.

“It was a team effort,” she said.

“We did it together, and the best thing was that Notts were so open to suggestions from me and the community.

“Institutions often don’t take the time to reach out into their community, but people in the community can also be guilty of not asking for help. Neither of those things were the case when we were setting up the Haydn Road club.”

Haydn Road currently operates All Stars, Kwik Cricket, Softball, Walking Cricket and Street Cricket sessions, in addition to community-focused fitness activities which are not centred on the sport.

And Zaharah already has one eye on how the club can make a greater impact in its second year.

“I always knew the Djanogly playing field would be a great location – it was the school I attended as a kid, and it was the field I did PE on,” she said.

“Next year, the challenge is to get more and more people involved – and we hope that a signing of the profile of Mohammad Abbas [who has agreed a deal with Notts for the upcoming season] will help to attract more people from Asian communities to the club.”


Find out more about the Haydn Road Community Cricket Club here...