Faiths come together for Walsall cricket match
Community cohesion and inclusion were at the forefront as an interfaith cricket match took place.
WLV Sport, the sports service of the University of Wolverhampton, took on Walsall for All in a Twenty20 match hosted by Walsall Cricket Club, based next to the university's Walsall Campus.
The match was the first of its kind and came about after work in the community by both Walsall for All, a programme aimed at increased community cohesion, and the chaplaincy at the university to link with the different communities and promote the event.
The WLV Sport team saw members of staff and a number of current and former students join up to play, while the Walsall for all team were represented by a wide section of the community, with representatives of Christian, Hindu and Muslim groups teaming with Walsall for All programme staff.
Despite a few spots of rain before the match that threatened to halt proceedings, the weather brightened up in time for the two teams to be greeted by Dr. Richard Medcalf, Director of Institute of Human Sciences at the university.
Among the crowd were university staff, Walsall for All members and representatives of Staffordshire Cricket.
Both captains were looking forward to the game on a competitive level, but also remembered the purpose of the day.
Pete Connolly, WLV Sport Commercial Manager, spoke about the opportunities that the day provided.
He said: "We've just come to enjoy a game with our colleagues in the interfaith team.
"We want to enjoy this, have some competition, make new friends and we're just looking forward to playing cricket together and having fun.
"For us, it's a great opportunity to network and we don't want this to be a one-off. We want this to continue into next year and beyond."
Imran Suddle, programme manager of Walsall for All, spoke about the new links with the university and what it would do going forward for the programme.
He said: "What I hope to achieve from today is a really positive initiative that brings different segments of the community together, work alongside each other, rather than against each other.
"Also, it's about building new links with our local university, which is really important because cohesion is about social mixing, but it's also about bringing educational and economic opportunities as well, so I'm really delighted about working alongside the university and developing a new partnership with them."
The game proved to be a closely fought encounter, with Walsall for All just falling short in their efforts to chase WLV Sport's total, being bowled out for 91 after WLV Sport had made 101 from their 20 overs.
Pete Connolly was pleased to win, but said the event was the real winner on the day.
He said: "We're pleased to have won the game, but more importantly, we've played with new friends in the interfaith Walsall team. It was played in the right spirit and comradeship, so we've just enjoyed the event."