With Birmingham Bears’ NatWest T20 Blast campaign well underway, Warwickshire County Cricket Club has launched a new initiative to donate 1,000 plastic cricket bats to youngsters across Birmingham and the county of Warwickshire.

In partnership with Birmingham City Council’s Health & Wellbeing team, Selco Builders Warehouse and the club’s Edgbaston Foundation charity, the 1,000 bats are being donated to local schools, youth clubs and community initiatives in the region to encourage wider participation by youngsters.

Neil Snowball, Chief Executive of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, said: “We’re aiming to make the game more accessible to youngsters, and playing with a plastic bat and tennis ball can happen easily on any surface.

“The giveaway is part of a part of a wider initiative to get people of all ages playing the game this summer. We already have free junior coaching every Friday evening at Edgbaston and are running family sessions in Cannon Hill Park in the school summer holidays.

“Our thanks go to Birmingham City Council’s Health & Wellbeing team and Selco Builders Warehouse for their support for this initiative as part of encouraging healthy, active lifestyles.”

All children who attend the free cricket coaching at Edgbaston on Friday evenings will receive one of the plastic bats, whilst the Warwickshire Cricket Board will also issue bats through its school cricket sessions and the Chance to Shine Street programme, which is played on hard court surfaces in Birmingham and Coventry. Several will also be issued through the Edgbaston Foundation, which provides support for community projects across the region.

Selco Builders Warehouse Marketing Manager, Simon Humpage, said: “The bat initiative is a fantastic way to get more youngsters playing sports and increasing the amount of time they spend on healthy and active pursuits. It’s also a great way to kick start an interest in cricket amongst the younger people of Birmingham and, who knows, it may inspire the next generation of Ian Bells. We are very proud to be supporting this initiative as part of our sponsorship of the Birmingham Bears.”

Birmingham City Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Ian Ward, said: “This is a great way to get young people across Birmingham into cricket and maybe we’ll encourage a future Warwickshire or even England player to take up the game.

“Of course most of us will never play at Edgbaston or Lords, but the young people using these bats can enjoy all the benefits of playing the game and being physically active. That’s why we’re happy to support this fantastic initiative.”

For further information on the plastic bats giveaway or free junior cricket coaching, contact Will Roberts on willroberts@edgbaston.com.