Billings, has joined forces with the UK’s number one youth cricket and disability sports charity, the Lord’s Taverners, to launch a cricket ambassador programme, aiming to raise awareness and understanding of the charity’s programmes within recreational cricket.
While launching the ambassador programme, Billings attended a Lord’s Taverners Disability Cricket Championships (LTDCC) session in Bromley. The LTDCC, in partnership with the Berkeley Foundation, is a year-round cricket programme for young disabled people aged 14-25. LTDCC provides access to regular coaching and competition in local communities across London through an innovative partnership with the county cricket boards of Essex, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey.
Each borough competes in a year-round league structure that provides regular competition and this culminates in a Finals Day at Lord’s.
Whilst at the session, 20 disabled young people enjoyed the rare chance to play cricket with an England international, including an astonishing leg spin bowler, Sam Alderson, also from Kent.
Sam has severe physical disabilities and uses a powerchair. He was inspired to take part in cricket through the work of the charity. He chose to put aside his powerchair, preferring instead to bowl whilst stood on his knees. “I love playing the game and I love getting out there and trying new things and I don’t make excuses for my disability” he said, adding: “If I want to do something, I’ll go and do it and I’ll be determined to do it, no matter what.”
Sam Billings is one of six ambassadors that will be helping raise awareness of the charity, with more names planned to join in the coming months. The ambassador programme’s aim is to both strengthen the connection between the Lord’s Taverners and professional cricketers and to raise awareness of the charity’s initiatives amongst the younger supporters of the game. The ambassadors will attend regional and national Lord’s Taverners programmes and events, as well as showing support by using a charity coloured bat grip when they play.
Billings, 25, who has been part of the England ODI and T20 squads which toured India and the West Indies this year, is looking forward to supporting the work of the Lord’s Taverners. “I think sometimes as a prosportsman, you can actually take it too seriously” he said. “It puts it into perspective and it’s fantastic to see the smiles on the faces and to enjoy cricket again and to see the effects of cricket on people; so for me, that’s as good as anything.”
The LTDCC programme was delivered to young people in 23 London boroughs in 2016 with the aim of reaching all 32 London boroughs in the next three years. The long term goal is to expand the programme nationally, starting in the eastern counties followed by other major UK cities.