Mumbai, May 2, 2022- Lord Kamlesh Patel took over the reins of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club at a time when the organisation was at its lowest, battling allegations of institutional racism levelled by Asian-origin cricketer Azeem Rafiq.
The club has made a lot of changes to become more inclusive and is currently on an image re-building exercise. Recently, it has signed an exclusive partnership with Clean Slate Studioz to have branding on the East Stand and main pavilion at the Headingley Cricket Ground. In association with Clean Slate, it has also launched a programme to distribute free cricket kits to encourage women and girls to take up the sport.
In an interview over email with IANS, Lord Patel said he has witnessed a phenomenal change in attitude at Yorkshire CCC following the racism scandal — from reluctantly agreeing that there is a problem to now launching programmes to promote an inclusive environment.
Q: How do you plan to take this partnership further and use it to develop women’s cricket, which is still struggling for resources?
A: Firstly, we’re incredibly pleased to be developing this partnership with Clean Slate and to be working alongside a vibrant international brand that knows how to entertain diverse communities and one which mirrors our vision for the future of Yorkshire.
The women’s game is such a vital component of an inclusive environment and is at the heart of our proud club’s future. Clean Slate’s support is a key enabler of its progress and also sends a message to young aspiring female cricketers that their participation is incredibly valued. The Clean Slate Foundation and YCCC have outlined a long-term plan of a range of activities across Yorkshire which will have the strategic goal of supporting the women’s game, with a particular emphasis on the grassroots level of participation for girls.
We want to provide a pathway for girls who have dreams of entering the elite levels of cricket but also those who simply have a passion for playing. Our goal is to make cricket accessible for girls of all ages across our county and to champion the message that everybody has a right to take part.
Clean Slate’s provision of free kits for girls in the community is just the beginning of our new symbolic partnership. We are incredibly grateful for their support for the community.
Q: What are your plans to ensure that the various activities undertaken by you do not end up being considered just image-building exercises?
A: Since I started my role, I have seen many clubs undertake activities and launch many initiatives. I can understand that from an outsider’s perspective there may be questions as to what makes this partnership with Clean Slate different, but for me, the focus for YCCC is curating systemic changes and a key element to that is the nature of the partnerships that we embark upon.
Partnering with a company like Clean Slate is a very conscious decision of ours as we truly believe that our values align and this enables us to work in tandem, share ideas and champion the core notion of unity, inclusivity and diversity.
We’re collaborating with a range of organisations, not just within cricket but those which lead the way in other influential sectors, such as entertainment for example. I think this gives us the ability to adopt fresh perspectives and to build on new meaningful activities which transcend cultures.
Q: What are your plans to develop women’s cricket as the system still discriminates against them?
A: The development of the women’s and girls’ game is central to our future strategy and sits firmly at the forefront of our agenda for the future. We are committed to providing additional resources, embarking on further collaborative partnerships and doing all that we can to ensure girls and women feel empowered to participate and excel in the sport.
Activities for the men will mirror that of the women.
Q: How much change in actual attitude have you observed in the Yorkshire setup following this controversy? The impression we got initially was that people were not ready to accept that there actually was a problem.
A: I’ve witnessed a phenomenal change. In all honesty, I hadn’t anticipated such levels of change to have been felt in such a short period of time. When we took a step back and applied a wide review of the things we needed to change at YCCC, we knew that time was going to be required — but to see changes in the culture and attitudes across the whole club so quickly has been very encouraging.
We know that more time is needed and there is still a long way to go. The club is very transparent about its past struggles, and we’re aware that we have to work hard to prove to some people that these changes really are being felt in the long term and are sustainable. But I must commemorate the entire club for this incredible effort thus far, from the players, the staff, our fans and members. It’s been amazing to see everybody come together to pull in one direction. It has unified us all.
Q: How do you see your future role as things return to normalcy in Yorkshire CCC?
A: As I said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how quickly we have been able to witness real change at the club, but we know that the future is the most important thing. We are not going to sit back and we are going to keep implementing our future strategy to ensure our club continues to drive forward with progressive action. We will appoint a brand new board at the annual general meeting towards the end of May which will bring in new voices, new perspectives and new leadership.
I will have the responsibility of working with the board and developing our vision, values and long-term strategy. I’m very excited about the years ahead and ensuring that YCCC can bring about further opportunities for our community, as Yorkshire aims to become a beacon for inclusivity, diversity, and acceptance. (Agency)