The Griffin Sports Ground in Dulwich Village, home to Dulwich CC, is set to become the first club cricket ground in the UK to give priority to women’s and girls’ players and teams.
The ground will be restored as a top-quality community facility for football and cricket, and will be run by a new charity established in partnership between Lambeth Tigers FC and Dulwich CC – the London Youth Sports Trust.
The Griffin will become home to Lambeth Tigers Football Club, which draws many of its players from communities where young people are denied access to good facilities, and to Dulwich Cricket Club’s women’s and girls’ teams, following the agreement of a new 30-year lease for the ground with the Dulwich Estate.
The Trust’s 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. The Trust will welcome partnerships with other clubs, residents and community groups that share its objectives, and is inviting these groups 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 growing 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.”
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. The club currently has 10 girls, aged between 10 and 18, in Surrey’s performance programme.
The Griffin will become the home of the 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 & Girls, who represents South East Stars and Surrey, 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 a hundred 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.”
Lambeth Tigers, with support from Dulwich Cricket Club, is today launching a fundraising appeal to allow it to invest in improving the facilities at the Griffin, which need restoration, and to offer them affordably to its target users. Supporters are encouraged to donate online at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/home4tigers.
Lambeth Tigers was formed in 1995 and re-founded 10 years ago in the Loughborough and Angeltown 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 proud 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.
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, who 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.