Hampshire Hawks City Academy Engages Over 3,000 Young People Across Southampton

Over 3,000 children got involved with the Hampshire Hawks City Academy programme, with a team taking on a side from the ACE Programme on the main Ageas Bowl pitch

The Hampshire Hawks City Academy – which was created to provide access to high quality cricket coaching and facilities for young people in inner-city areas, who otherwise might not have had access to such provision – has provided unique and transformational opportunities to thousands of young people from Southampton in its first summer.

The programme – which began in November 2021 - was formed courtesy of a partnership between Hampshire Cricket and Cantell School, and in collaboration with Hampshire Cricket Board and Lord’s Taverners Wicketz programme.

Youngsters on the programme have just completed their first summer of coaching and competitive fixtures, and the Academy’s season came to a crescendo recently as the programme’s first intake of young players were afforded the opportunity to play a competitive fixture at The Ageas Bowl.

The Hampshire Hawks City Academy, with wonderful support from the Lord’s Taverners Wicketz programme – is all about providing free access to top level cricket coaching, facilities and amenities to those young people who are otherwise disadvantaged in accessing such provision, especially in inner city areas where cricketing infrastructure might be limited. For youngsters on the programme to have gone from playing on the streets of Southampton to playing at The Ageas Bowl is just fantastic and something we’ve very proud to have been able to offer. As well as September’s competitive fixture, the Hawks Academy participants had the opportunity to train at The Ageas Bowl throughout the programme, and even enjoyed a bowling masterclass with Hampshire duo Keith Barker and Mohammad Abbas – who’ve claimed over 100 wickets between them in 2022 alone – as they sharpened their burgeoning skills.

Sam Moss, Urban Cricket Development Officer

The Hampshire Hawks City Academy started working in Southampton, and has successfully integrated existing participation programmes to create a functioning cricket pathway, with 3,200 children and young people taking part in in-school taster sessions across 20 schools.

Hampshire Cricket – along with Cantell School, Hampshire Cricket Board and Lord’s Taverners Wicketz Programme – now aim to grow the Hawks Academy into other cities and urban areas throughout the county, looking to provide more youngsters the opportunity to play and train in inspirational settings.

The Southampton Hawks Academy, the first side formed by the Hampshire Hawks City Academy programme, have played a series of competitive fixtures throughout 2022 and the curtain came down on their fixture schedule in style with a 30-over-a-side match against a team from the ACE programme on The Ageas Bowl’s famous main outfield.

Where I grew up in Pakistan, I didn’t have the opportunity to join a cricket club or attend a cricket academy. To be given the chance to play and train in world-class facilities as part of the Southampton Hawks Academy is a dream come true. I’ve made new friends, gained confidence and enjoyed being part of a team – we’ve all improved so much too.

Azar Mehmood, Hampshire Hawks City Academy Captain

The Academy has helped young children, who previously had no organised cricket, go on to feature in club cricket, and some have earned wider recognition with nine players being selected for Best of Region and Hampshire youth squads.

Azar Mehmood (U14 & U15), Yusuf Khan (U14), Taimoor Shah (U13), Abdul Majid Karimi (U12), Iqrar Mohammad (U12), Kit Pearson (U11), and George Lewis (U11) were selected for the Best of Region squads in their respective age groups, with brothers Rocky Singh and Ronny Singh playing for Hampshire U13s and U12s respectively.

The Hampshire Hawks City Academy previously trained at The Ageas Bowl, and they started the day with a net session in the indoor school whilst the ground staff mopped up the outfield and got the pitch into a state fit to play on.

The team then moved outside and walked down the steps and onto The Ageas Bowl pitch where Keith Barker and Mohammad Abbas caught the eye of the players.

After a chat with their heroes, the ACE Programme side won the toss and elected to bowl first on what turned out to be a tricky pitch to bat on.

The ball swung heavily, but Ronny Singh was the star with his score of 28, being the only Hawks City Academy player to make it into double figures, as the Academy were bowled out for 84.

Scorecard: Hampshire Hawks City Academy v ACE Programme

We were really passionate about the Hampshire Hawks City Academy from the outset and the opportunity it presented to open elite level instruction up to a more diverse group of young people. To see the first cycle of the programme, complete with youngsters getting the chance to step foot and play on the famous outfield at The Ageas Bowl is incredibly pleasing. We look forward to continuing to support as the programme grows into other cities and urban areas in 2023 and beyond.

Harry Cutty, Headteacher at Cantell School

Yusuf Khan struck early for the Hawks City Academy when he bowled A. Fish for 6, reeling off a Hasan Ali-style celebration.

Rocky Singh picked up 3-3 in just two overs, with Kit Person and Abdul Majid Karimi taking a wicket each at the home of the Rose and Crown.

For more information on the Hampshire Hawks City Academy and Inner-City State School Partnership, please click the link below.

Hampshire Hawks City Academy

For more information about the Lord's Taverners Wicketz programme, please follow the link below.

Southampton Wicketz Programme
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