On Thursday March 21, fifteen displaced women living in the local community came together as part of the OMAID project at Somerset County Cricket Ground.

The OMAID project is an exciting new collaboration between Somerset Cricket Foundation and Diversity Voice, which is making a real difference to the lives of displaced women in Somerset.

On Thursday 21st March fifteen displaced women living in the local community came together as part of the OMAID project at Somerset County Cricket Ground.

The OMAID project was the brainchild of Mustafa Shaikh Community Activation Officer at Somerset Cricket Foundation, who approached Diversity Voice, a local diversity and inclusion charity, with the idea of starting a Women’s cricket team. With funding from the ‘Warm Spaces’ initiative, Diversity Voice and Voluntary Action North Somerset the two organisations were able to make the project happen!

The word OMAID translates to ‘Hope’ in Pashto, Farsi and Urdu. This term is fitting for a group of women many of whom have faced various challenges, inequality or who have extremely sad stories to share. The objective was to provide a community space for displaced women where they could learn to play cricket while also supporting their physical and mental well-being.

Under the guidance of Joleigh Roberts, who is this season’s Vice Captain of Somerset Ladies CCC, the women have been attending cricket training sessions at the Junction 24 Auction Centre in North Petherton. Their dedication and hard work have paid off, and they are eager to continue building their skills and teamwork to make their dream of forming a cricket team a reality.

Last week the women were presented with a wonderful opportunity to visit the Cooper Associates County Ground and be coached by Mustafa Shaikh and Amber Casley, Somerset Cricket Foundations Women and Girls Development Officer. The training session lasted for approximately an hour, during which time the coaches imparted a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the women, teaching them a range of new skills and techniques.

Following the training session the women were able to tour the grounds while wearing their new branded shirts (sponsored by Voluntary Action North Somerset, Diversity Voice and Somerset Cricket Foundation). They enjoyed standing on the pitch and experiencing the stadium like professional cricketers. After the tour, they visited the Somerset Cricket Museum and took a look at the Millichamp & Hall Bat workshop and learned how cricket bats are made.

Natalie Dyson, CEO, Diversity Voice said “As an EDI charity, we are always training and supporting our clients to promote inclusion and prevent discrimination. When Mus came to us with the idea of the OMAID project we saw the potential, with sport and Cricket being a common language it has united these women. And it’s been amazing to see people from different cultures and with different languages and religions come together in harmony to play as one team.”

The OMAID project has established a platform for displaced women in Somerset to engage in physical activities and has cultivated a wonderful sense of community. It is hoped that the project will continue to grow and develop, with the ladies’ keen to find local fixtures in the summer, so keep an eye out for exciting updates in the future.

Jon Bendle, Managing Director, Somerset Cricket Foundation said “It’s fantastic to see this programme come to fruition in collaboration with our local partners in Diversity Voice. Our vision is to impact the lives of all people in Somerset through cricket, we hope this activity will achieve this outcome in a small and meaningful way. The concept has been developed from the outstanding work of the Maqbul project, and we look forward to seeing further success throughout the summer months.”