Former England captain Mike Gatting is urging the local community to lend a helping at Copley Cricket Club this weekend – insisting he loved every minute of his time spent there.
The 14th annual NatWest CricketForce will take place between March 27-29 with Copley and other Calderdale clubs among more than 2,000 registered to take part.
Tens of thousands of club members and volunteers will come together to clean, tidy, repair and revitalise clubhouses and cricket grounds across the country ahead of the new season.
It was back in 2013 that Gatting rolled his sleeves up and got stuck in at Halifax League Copley and the ECB Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships admits he hopes they get stuck in again this time around too.
“So much fantastic work has been done over the years,” said Gatting.
“The biggest thing that gives me pleasure from helping out is hearing from the hundreds of clubs involved.
“We get loads of reports as the summer goes on that the clubs have a new lease of life, with new sponsors, volunteers, members, and the players are happier as well. That was certainly the case for Copley.
“I remember working quite hard laying the patio out the front of the pavilion with the local builder and we got it all done in about half a day.
“Then we finished off a storage shed at the side of the pavilion. It was wonderful to finish off all of the things that needed doing.
“The mayor turned up and a few councillors and I think they got a couple of new sponsors on the day.”
And Gatting, a former England captain, is adamant this year’s Natwest CricketForce will benefit more than just the clubs themselves.
“I hope we’re helping the communities as well as the clubs,” he added. “Kids want to go to clubs, and have fun with their mates in a safe area.
“It’s all about the community for cricket clubs, and in some places the clubs can stop kids from being out on the street and doing drugs, in gangs, and other terrible things.
“So these kind of schemes make a difference from that respect too, and it’s nice to think we can help kids move down a different path to all that.
“Cricket is one of those games where you make friends for life, build bridges, and learn a lot of life skills as well.
“Local councils and communities acknowledge that and get involved themselves - that is what it’s all about.”
NatWest CricketForce is an ECB project helping cricket clubs renovate and improve their facilities before each season with the help of members and their wider communities.
Find out when your local club event is and lend a hand at ecb.co.uk/nwcf