Local inclusive sport gets a big boost today (30 June) with the announcement that a new charity is to restore a Dulwich sports ground for use by Brixton-based Lambeth Tigers Football Club and by women’s and girls’ cricket teams.
The picturesque Griffin Sports Ground in Dulwich Village, currently run by King’s College, London, is to be restored as a top quality community facility by the London Youth Sports Trust (LYST), a charity set up by Lambeth Tigers Football Club and Dulwich Cricket Club.
The Griffin will be home to the Tigers and to Dulwich Cricket Club’s women’s and girls’ teams.
The Tigers draw many of their players from local communities where young people are denied access to good facilities.
Following agreement on a new 30-year lease for the ground with the Dulwich Estate, the Griffin will be the first club-standard cricket ground in the UK to give priority to women’s and girls’ players and teams.
It will also be Lambeth Tigers’ first permanent home ground.
The London Youth Sports Trust will take over the management and lease of the Griffin later this year and invest in improved pitches and facilities.
The trust said its mission is to provide much-needed sports pitches for children and young people deprived of good facilities, for women’s and girls’ cricket and football, and for pupils at local state schools.
It said it would welcome partnerships with other clubs, residents and community groups that share its objectives, and invited them to suggest ideas for making full use of the ground.
“The Griffin is going to transform the opportunities available in South London to two groups who are among those with most to gain from community sport: young people who are growing up with the extreme stress of living in high crime neighbourhoods, but who deserve the best, and women and girls, who often take second place in sports grounds everywhere,” said Stephen Grey, chair of LYST and a parent at Lambeth Tigers.
“We are hugely excited to take on this beautiful sports ground, and to develop it as a sporting hub for everyone from all communities and backgrounds.
“It will have lifelong benefits for the children and young people who play football and cricket there.”
Lambeth Tigers, with support from Dulwich Cricket Club, today launches a fundraising appeal to allow it to invest in improving the facilities at the Griffin and to offer them affordably to its target users.
Lambeth Tigers was formed in 1995 and re-founded 10 years ago in the Loughborough and Angell Town estates in Brixton by two youth workers, David Marriott and Jamahl Jarrett.
Both turned away from involvement in gangs after David’s brother was murdered, to focus on using football to transform lives.
The club has a track record both of developing outstanding football talent, and of providing life-enhancing opportunities for children and young people who might otherwise be vulnerable to the impact of crime or deprivation.
Its development has been held back by a lack of access to pitches, and it has never had a permanent ground.
Jamahl Jarrett said: “Everyone has been talking about the amazing sporting talent that’s coming up from South London – but the facilities on offer do not match the potential.
“We believe every child and young person has an equal right to enjoy quality sport facilities, and the opportunity and development that results from that.
“We see the Griffin as a place that brings kids from all backgrounds and communities together.
“It’s going to be massive for our club and our players, and it’s going to welcome all.”
The Tigers will continue to develop their base at the Jadon Sancho pitch in Myatt’s Fields Park where they run holidays camps with lots of free places for the community and open-to-all-sessions on Sundays. They are hoping to install new floodlights for after-school training at this pitch.
Dulwich Cricket Club, established in 1867, has doubled the size of its women’s and girls’ section to more than 150 in the past 18 months, in line with cricket’s status as one of the fastest-growing female sports, and now has one of the largest women’s and girl’s sections in London and the South East. As many as five teams play on Sundays. Ten girls from the club, aged between 10 and 18, are currently in Surrey County Cricket Club’s performance programme.
The club also has seven mixed teams playing on Saturdays.
The Griffin will become the home of its women’s and girls’ teams, who will have priority use of its facilities over men’s and boy’s teams.
This is believed to be the first arrangement of its kind for a top-quality cricket ground in the UK.
The Griffin will enable the club to further expand its women’s and girls’ programme, which would otherwise be limited by a lack of access to pitches and practice facilities, and to provide more cricket opportunities to the Black community in South London.
“Cricket is the fastest-growing sport for girls, and we’re experiencing a surge of interest – we’ve tripled our membership among primary school girls since March,” said Samantha Krafft, membership secretary of Dulwich Cricket Club.
“We want to give girls exactly the same opportunities as boys to play cricket, and all that’s holding us back is a lack of places to play.
“There’s a shortage of good quality pitches in London, and many of those have long-standing use arrangements with men’s and boys’ teams.
“The Griffin will be the first cricket ground where women and girls come first – it’s what we need to achieve our dream.”
Kira Chathli, Dulwich CC’s head coach for women and girls, and a professional player for the South East Stars and Surrey County Cricket Club, said: “When I started playing cricket at Dulwich, I was pretty much the only girl in the boys’ team.
“Now, I’m coaching well over 100 players in girls-only sessions every week.
“The Griffin means we can keep growing – it’s going to change the game for women’s and girls’ cricket in South London.”
Simone Crofton, chief executive of the Dulwich Estate, said: “Dulwich is well-known for its wealth of outstanding sporting facilities which draw people from far and wide.
“We are delighted that Dulwich Cricket Club and Lambeth Tigers FC – and others – will use the Griffin Sports Ground to encourage a hotbed of young talent, and to promote new community sports opportunities for young people in girls’ and women’s cricket and football in particular.”
LYST and the Griffin project have been established with substantial help and support from Sport England, the England & Wales Cricket Board, the Surrey Cricket Foundation, the Arts and Culture Foundation, the London FA, Mentivity CIC, and with advice and support from Southwark and Lambeth councils, Football Beyond Borders, Nike, Unity FC, Nasaa FC, and the London Schools Cricket Association.
Other partners in the initiative, that will use the Griffin’s facilities, include Girls United FA, a women and girls football club, Carnegie Cricket Club, a South London club with origins in the West Indian community, and several local state schools.
Students at King’s College, London, the current tenants of the Griffin, will continue to use its facilities.