ENGLAND Test cricket captain Joe Root was on hand to help launch a new community initiative in Leeds, aimed at encouraging youngsters to take up the sport.
Pupils from Morley Newlands Academy joined the Yorkshire CCC star in a special workshop at the Village Hotel Club in Morley.
It marked the launch of the hotel chain’s community volunteering initiative which will see them commit 30,000 hours per year to volunteering in local communities across the UK.
“It’s a great initiative and fantastic to see that days like this can really make such a big impact on young people and help encourage them to stay active,” said Root.
“It’s absolutely vital that we do all we can to get kids into being active and it’s great to see that this initiative is helping that and that the Village have put aside 30,000 hours of staff time to go and give the opportunity to these kids to learn about playing cricket and any other sports.”
Root said he hoped the initiative may even help in some small way inspire youngsters to follow in his own footsteps.
This gives youngsters the chance to come and play a bit of cricket and they then might go back, get involved in their local club and go on and - potentially - play for Yorkshire and EnglandJoe Root
“This gives youngsters the chance to come and play a bit of cricket and they then might go back, get involved in their local club and go on and - potentially - play for Yorkshire and England. And that is just one another exciting side to the initiative.”
The England captain, who recently led his team to a 4-1 Test series triumph against No1-ranked team in the world India, helped the pupils from Year 5 and Year 6 to try out different cricket skills in the event, which was hosted in partnership with the Yorkshire Cricket Board and supported by the CricketKidz Sports Learning Zone.
As part of the initiative, which will be rolled out across the hotel chain’s other sites, each hotel will encourage 10 employees to spend a day with a charitable or community project of their choosing. Each hotel will also adopt a local charity for the year.
Claire Rowland, of Village Hotel Club, said: “The idea is that traditional places are a little bit lost or lost their relevance but everybody still wants to be connected so we are in the heart of 30 communities up and down the country and we recognise we have a responsibility within those communities.
“And part of this initiative is helping make sure they are healthy communities and that’s why we invited the pupils along to be inspired by Joe. Many children have probably never even considered cricket, so if we can help introduce them to such sports and help them to be healthy then we are doing part of our job.”
Not surprisingly, the presence of Root was a big hit with the pupils, who also got to grill the England skipper in a Q&A session after the workshop.
Nine-year-old Summer Malin, said: “It was loads of fun and we got to experience what it was like to be a proper cricketer.
“It was amazing to meet Joe Root, he was just great.”
Freddie Firth, also nine, said that cricket was now his second favourite sport, behind rugby, adding: “It was brilliant meeting Joe and I’d not really played cricket before. it’s important to stay fit and healthy and we had a great time.”