Leeds Kites CC are thought to be only the third LGBT+ inclusive cricket club in the world. They follow the creation of Graces Cricket Club in 1996 and the Birmingham Unicorns, established in 2021.
The newly formed side caters for all abilities and backgrounds and is supported by Yorkshire Cricket and Out 4 Cricket.
Members have progressed from meeting on Zoom to recently being invited by Yorkshire Cricket to train at Headingley, with several friendly matches lined-up.
During the team’s second training session recently, Steve Gillies, Chairperson for Leeds Kites CC, took time out to talk about the importance of the team and creating opportunities for people to connect with cricket.
By Steve Gillies
It was very important to set up Leeds Kites – this is only the third club of this kind in the whole world.
Creating a club like this is a really good way of bringing people into the game who wouldn’t otherwise engage. It’s supporting people who maybe feel cricket’s not for them, or the environment isn’t right. Teams like this are all about creating that freedom to be who you want to be and hopefully loving and enjoying cricket with people who are just like you.
The team’s become incredibly popular already. We’ve grown from having 13 people at our first training session to pushing up to 20 for the second.
We have a wide range of abilities here. There are people who have never played cricket before, right up to those who have played for 15 or 20 years plus. And there are returning players who, for whatever reason, had stopped and feel like now’s the time to come back into the sport. It’s been really exciting being in this environment and it’s been a lot of fun to be involved.
It’s really important to have Yorkshire Cricket involved and we’ve been really fortunate with the support the Club has given. From professional coaching sessions, to having access to indoors facilities and YCCC have been very receptive to any questions that we’ve asked.
We’ve also been able to source some second-hand kit through the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation’s Cric-Kit recycling programme – that we have in our team kit bag.
Cricket is really expensive to get into. The cost of kit goes up every year – and we’re in the cost-of-living crisis as well so for people who are completely new and would like to give it a try – the kit can be a massive barrier. By supplying the kit to new people it takes worry and pressure off. They can see if they like it and then if they do like it can look into getting their own kit or other options.
Collectively we’ve broken down barriers. After only one training session, and one game, we’ve already had people come up and say – ‘I’ve never felt so relaxed,’ ‘I’ve never played so well’ and they’ve attributed that to just feeling comfortable and themselves.
We want to continue breaking those barriers down and it’s amazing to support more people into the game. People who have never played cricket and people who have never been engaging with this sport. That’s growing the game – that’s what we do it for really – you can’t put a value on that.
We’ve seen already how much of an appetite there is for this team and how much people want to be involved. I think it’s our job to keep providing this opportunity for them and keep growing the game. Hopefully we will see more teams like this popping up in the future.