Pitching the perfect note for sporting integration

posted : 21st June 2016

Cricket fans will be treated to a musical concert as diverse as the choir singing it, as Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds gears up to host the first ever performance by Pitch Perfect.

The young people’s choir is made up of students from two Wakefield schools and will feature some of their favourite contemporary songs.

But the choir is unique in two very special ways. Not only do the students represent a vast range of different countries and languages, but the youngsters themselves had not even practised together until a week ago.

Pitch Perfect will feature a cast of more than 60 boys and girls, aged between nine and 14, from Wakefield’s City Academy and Cathedral Academy. Both schools have students from immigrant families.

And it is this diversity that will be celebrated in the event on July 8 before the live televised T20 game between Yorkshire Vikings and the Birmingham Bears at the ground in Leeds.

The production is a collaboration between the charity Migrant Help UK, The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation and CHANT Productions, a music education company which specialises in presenting children’s choirs at big sporting events. All of the students taking part will get free introductory classes in cricket as well.

Steve Sellen, Head of Community Engagement Services for Migrant Help UK, said: “Sport, performance and the arts are excellent ways for us to bring young people, and their families, together to champion the diversity of our communities, breaking down barriers especially for those who do not have English as their first language. 

“We’re delighted to be working alongside the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation and CHANT Productions on such an inspiring project. Pitch Perfect has given young people the opportunity to make new friends, learn a new skill and perform at a world class venue.  But, most importantly, to have fun.”

Sean Ruane, Creative Director of CHANT Productions, said: “We are very excited to be partnering The Yorkshire County Cricket Foundation and Migrant Help UK on what will hopefully be a far reaching project.

“For this pilot, the pupils we are engaging with will only have a short time to learn their repertoire, and as many may not have English as their first language there will be lots of work involved. But music and sport are universal languages and with CHANT’s guidance I am totally confident that they will sound fantastic.”

Dave Edmundson, Vice Chairman of The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, said: “One of our aims is to join people and communities through the power of cricket.  Yorkshire cricket is recognised on a global stage and Pitch Perfect will bring together a very wide range of young people who will become inextricably linked through song and cricket to the true nature of Yorkshire and its communities.”

This is not the first time Migrant Help UK has collaborated on a sporting project aimed at encouraging integration for migrant families to the UK.

It is piloting a scheme to give children of migrant families the chance to get involved in training and playing with Canterbury Rugby Club. It has also provided volunteer instructors for youngsters learning to sail in Ashford, Kent and is developing sporting links between South Ashford football club and Ashford Nepalese Community.