Bopara visits youngsters at Hackney Marshes Centre

England and Essex cricketer pleased with new facilities

England and Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara visited the Hackney Marshes Centre last Thursday to see how the introduction of cricket was going on the famous sports field.

Bopara, who comes from the area, was thrilled to see how impressive the new cricket pitches were – which were made possible for a �770,000 grant from the ECB and Sport England – and hoped that the facilities would boost cricket participation in the area.

“There’s a lot of cricket on with all these kids about,” said Bopara.

“I think it’s brilliant, especially for somewhere like east London.

“It was quite rough coming down here actually to Hackney Marshes, and coming to playfootball and stuff, you had to be quite careful.

“But it looks very good and the kids have been great.”

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“There is a huge community of Caribbeans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Indians here.

“There’s a massive community and you know how much they love their cricket and it’s nice to see facilities like this because there certainly wasn’t these facilities around when I was growing up and that wasn’t that long ago.

“It’s brilliant to see and with the turnout here as well, it’s very, very good.”

Dozens of children turned out to see Bopara, who took the time to sign autographs and be photographed, before leading some fielding drills with the youngsters.

The ECB and Sport England grant will also be used to build a 16-room changing block and practice nets by 2013.