Up close and personal with Eaton Gordon, The ACE (Afro-Caribbean Engagement) Birmingham lead and community cricket development manager for Warwickshire County Cricket Board
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I’ve always been into sport and played semi-professional football as a youngster, but in 1989 I had an injury that ended my playing career which is when I got into coaching. I was one of the very first black people to go through the premier coaching scheme. I started coaching local football teams and became a community steward which involves overseeing community venues among other things. I then progressed to managing West Brom ladies – the first manager of the team – and then became sports development officer in the Perry Barr district before moving to Warwickshire Cricket.
IT’S WHAT I DO
It’s a big role! I’m tasked with promoting recreational cricket to groups that might not ordinarily get to play. I manage the community participation through schemes like street cricket, glow in the dark cricket, indoor winter leagues and South Asian core cities programme. The initiatives are funded largely by the ECB along with some other organisations. It’s very rewarding.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
I’d like to see the continuation of integration of communities coming together as one. There’s been a decline in cricket in black communities. I want to get cricket back at the forefront. I was brought up on cricket, the West Indies were the best and there were plenty of role models. Not so much for youngsters today. Football – yes. Cricket – less so, but we’ll get there. They’re not exposed to the sport as much, so changing that and getting cricket at the forefront is the goal.
Getting to the position I’m in where I’m able to make a real difference. There are development officers all over the country and I’m one of the only black ones.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
I’ll use a coaching phrase, you only get out what you put in. Work hard, put in the effort and it may take a while, but just keep going and you’ll get the rewards. Whatever area of life you’re in it applies.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
My favourite thing about Birmingham is the multi-cultural and integrational nature of the city. You have loads of people just mixing together yet managing to keep their own cultural identities – almost like communities within communities in the best possible sense.
A couple of glasses of wine and some Jamaican rum. I also love live music – any club, any concert. Work hard and play hard!
The Commonwealth Games is going to be massive. Women and girls’ cricket across the world has taken off and the Games will only add to that. The Hundred last summer pushed the women’s game into the spotlight and it continues to get better and better.