Sheffield community uses cricket to help tackle crime and anti-social behaviour
A community leader is using cricket to help tackle anti-social behaviour in a Sheffield neighbourhood blighted by crime.
Shahid Ali has introduced about 60 children from Nether Edge and Sharrow’s South Asian community to the sport to “engage young people into purposeful activity” and prevent the next generation following the wrong path in life.
Since setting up Allama Iqbal Cricket Club 18 months ago, the 43-year-old mental health worker from Nether Edge has established three junior sides for boys and girls aged eight to 13 and plans to widen the net to involve older groups.
“We have had a lot of anti-social behaviour in the area, a lot of gun crime, there's knife crime and a lot of issues around drugs,” he said.
"It’s all well and good running campaigns and holding services to account but what’s really needed is to engage young people at street level.
"We have got a phenomenal amount of kids playing cricket now. With all the negativity there is in the area it’s just a positive story.”
Nether Edge was the worst-affected neighbourhood by gun crime in Sheffield last year, with six separate shootings recorded by police, including three in one 24-hour period.
One of the aims of Allama Iqbal Cricket Club has been to reclaim Abbeydale Road’s Mount Pleasant Park where they train, which Shahid said has been frequented by drug dealers and users.
"Not one person can deal with all the issues in the area,” he added, “it’s about all of us coming together, doing our bit for the community, and hopefully seeing the results in the years to come.
"As club chairman the reward has been seeing the kids playing cricket, achieving, and winning games.
"We want to create good citizens so over the summer we will be doing things like litter-picking, especially around the park to try and make that space our own.”
Shahid runs the club along with 10 volunteers, including local parents. One of his proudest achievements has been introducing Asian girls to cricket.
He said: “A lot of parents are concerned about safety, about respect, they allow their girls to come because of the trust in myself and my coaches.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for the girls. It’s about letting them enjoy the game and giving them the opportunity to exercise.”