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Out 4 Cricket Conference 2024

Andi Page reflects on a day of conversations

Some of the contributors at this year's conference


On Friday 17th May I attended the Out 4 Cricket conference at Trent Bridge.


Out 4 Cricket was set up to make cricket more inclusive and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community, and this conference was the third of its kind. Much of the conference centred on the experiences of individuals and clubs, but also focused on the future and bui8lding a more inclusive game.


These are my personal reflections of the day and are intended to provide a brief overview rather than a detailed summary of discussions.


The first presentation was given by Nadeem, who was one of the founder members of Graces Cricket Club – the world’s first LGBTQ+ inclusive cricket club – in the 1990s. He talked about his experience with Graces and also his personal journey. Nadeem is now with Winsley CC in Wiltshire and he is clearly driven to help his new club become pioneers on the inclusivity front.


Steve and Bec from Leeds Kites, a club founded in early 2023, then spoke about what they had achieved in a short time. It was quite inspiring to hear how, from nothing, they have built a club of around 40 players and are not only expanding its membership and appeal, but also the club’s influence.


I was then asked to talk about Mersey Rose Recreationals. I started by paying tribute to Joe's legacy of championing inclusive cricket over several decades, I explained some of the frustrations of trying to be an inclusive, friendly team within a traditional club focused on competitive cricket and how ultimately Joe, Anna and I felt that becoming an independent club would give us greater scope for pursuing our more inclusive vision with new partners. I emphasised the importance of partnerships based on values with clubs and organisations that understand the need for new, more inclusive, approaches.


I said that, while our club was founded with the LGBTQ+ in mind, we also want to be instrumental in relation to other strands of inclusion – e.g. disability, older people, mental health and neurodiversity. I explained that we play only friendly cricket and emphasised the importance of not only offering players cricket in a non-pressurised environment but of being able to guarantee opposition that are not hostile to what we stand for. I pointed to the softball team as an example of how we are looking to try new approaches, and as an example of how the established use of softball for women-only sport has excluded disabled men who perhaps aren’t able to play 40-over Sunday hardball games. I mentioned that there are many clubs who will call themselves inclusive but are not willing to have uncomfortable conversations (e.g. around trans people). At Mersey Rose we are proud to be different and want to be influential in changing the conversation.


Following me came a delegation from Sussex CCC who were incredibly enthusiastic about some of their new EDI initiatives. They have been involved in the Rainbow Laces weekend, have been engaging with other sports, have founded “Coffee, Cake and Cricket” to engage with the LGBTQ+ community and have been intentional in “going out to people” rather than hoping people will come to them. They have also developed a long-term plan around “making an actual difference”, “being aware of challenges”, and facilitating visibility. They said that they see everyone as a potential cricketer, and that such an approach requires an understanding of individual challenges.


There were also presentations from Nottinghamshire and Kent, while Shaun from the OUTLaws (Notts CCC LGBTQ+ Supporters group) spoke about their own successes to date (including getting official merchandise in the club shop) and the longer-term vision for working with the country board to provide new opportunities for LGBTQ+ cricket in Nottinghamshire.


The conference happened to coincide with the County Championship match between Nottinghamshire and Hampshire. This presented delegates with the chance to enjoy some first-class cricket during the breaks, and also gave Notts the opportunity to express its own support for the conference on the large screens around the ground.


After lunch, there was a presentation from Sean, who is involved with Clock Cricket. His vision is to take cricket into places where people are not generally able to be involved in the game. Clock Cricket has been used in care homes, in stroke units and by the NHS in South Wales and is particularly useful in providing opportunities for physical activity for people living with dementia. Clock Cricket takes place indoors and we played a few games among ourselves, which had the dual effect of enabling us to visualise the nature of the game and enjoying a few laughs through fun indoor cricket.


Tom from Warrington CC then talked about his experience of working with Amelia – a player who he had been working with since the age of 10 who has transitioned in the last couple of years. Amelia’s story has been picked up by the national press and can be read here. What struck me is that Tom had no previous experience of, or understanding of, transgender issues, but was able to be an incredible support for Amelia because his instincts were to help and listen – a lesson to the rest of us. It was also striking that, during her transition, Amelia felt that sport was her “safety net”. I thought this was another important learning point, a reminder that as clubs we have a role to play in promoting good mental health.


There was then a talk from Hen, a representative of the LGBTQ+ Community in Cricket Employment Network – at a time when government ministers are publicly attacking such staff networks it was positive to hear from Hen how the ECB is making a positive difference to the lives of employees through this network.


Tom and Lachlan

The ECB’s EDI Committee chair, Kate, spoke at length about how the ECB is currently looking at transgender inclusion. She started off by describing the current conversation around transgender people in sport as “toxic” before asking a number of questions. “How can trans inclusion be integrated into the future?” “What exactly is fairness?” “How are ‘risks’ assessed?” She said that there is a risk of things becoming unfairly conflated, of identifying groups of people (rather than individual behaviours) as dangerous, and of becoming focused on hypothetical “what ifs”. Kate asserted that clubs need to do more to make trans people feel more comfortable and suggested that the best way to deal with any questions of unfairness is to “take the ‘trans; out of the situation – how would you ordinarily act?” Safety is wider than a simple issue of gender identity and a good disparity policy should be enough to equip clubs to manage specific questions of e.g. physical unfairness without discriminating against an entire group of people.


Leo and Lachlan from Out 4 Cricket then provided an update on their work over the last year. An LGBTQ+ T10 tournament, the introduction of webinars and training, the development of supporters’ clubs and Pride Matches in partnerships with County Cricket Clubs and taster sessions for the LGBTQ+ community were all cited as achievements. Out 4 Cricket has also joined the Spirit of Cricket Collective.


Future priorities for Out 4 Cricket will be to grow the game in partnership with other clubs, continuing to diversify, drive forward good practice and provide meaningful allyship.


The final session of the conference involved group discussions around what had inspired us and what actions we would like “the game” to take in the near future. If the conference had one weakness, then it was that this session was not longer.


All in all, it was a worthwhile day spent with people from across England who were committed to ensuring that cricket really is a game for everyone.

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