Innovative community work led to Leicestershire CCC winning a coveted Business of Cricket Award (BOCA) at Emirates Old Trafford.

The Bolly Cric-Hit initiative, led by the club’s Community Engagement Officer Amna Rafiq, won the award for Unleashing Cricket in the Community.

Bolly Cric-Hit is a fun filled session in collaboration with leading fitness organisation Bhangra Blaze, an incredible Bhangra fitness workout based on a powerful dance routine originating from the Punjab region of India. It aims to engage South Asian women and find new ways to introduce people to the sport.

The award capped a hugely productive week for cricket in local communities. On Monday, the ECB celebrated the progress already achieved via the South Asian Action Plan as it announced £1.2million of funding to develop a network of 2,000 female role models.

News of the funding was celebrated at a special community event in the city. Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann, his Strictly partner Oti Mabuse, former England cricketer Isa Guha and local school children from Coleman Primary School and Al Aqsa School all taking part in an All Stars Cricket session hosted by Amna.

Amna said: “Many people thought that I was crazy when I wanted to bring Bollywood and cricket together in Leicester in a bid to get more women engaged! The hard work continues to pay off when more and more women are attending weekly, and this award has definitely been the icing on the cake.”

Leicestershire CCC Chief Executive Wasim Khan MBE said: “We are delighted that the Bolly Cric-Hit initiative helped our community team to scoop the coveted Community Award at the annual BOCAs ceremony. Our community team is a truly exceptional and inspiring group of people who keep raising the bar with their standards of delivery.

“A key goal as part of our five-year business plan is to be the leading county board in the country and we are moving in that direction at pace. We are proud of the team and know that the excellent work will continue in the future.”

Leicestershire CCC Head of Community Mark Barber added: “This award is fantastic recognition of the great work happening with new audiences across our local community. To be recognised for this innovative project is testament to the excellent work being carried out by our team.

“Amna has led the line wonderfully well with Bolly Cric-Hit and the hope is that this can be a catalyst for all aspects of our community work to aspire to excellence. Huge congratulations to Amna and the Bhangra Blaze instructors who have helped inspire more and more women and girls to get fitter, enjoy cricket and lead more active lives.”

The BOCAs, hosted by BBC broadcaster Mark Chapman at the home of Lancashire CCC, aim to recognise non-playing excellence in the professional game.

Durham CCC and Worcestershire CCC were also among the winners. Durham CCC picked up three gongs including Best Commercial Partnership and Most Improved Match Day Experience. David Jackson received the Rising Star Award for his work leading their Marketing and Comms team to champion improvements in customer experience.

Worcestershire CCC were recognised for their Growth Strategy, after they successfully used Blackfinch New Road to drive revenue by utilizing the venue for conferencing and events throughout the year. It was a double win for the Pears with Carrie Lloyd picking up the Unsung Hero Award.

Lord’s retiring groundsman Mick Hunt received a standing ovation as he collected the Appreciation of Service Award, recognising his 49-year career.

The Welcoming Families award went to Hampshire CCC, and their groundsman, Karl McDermott, shared the One-Day Pitch Award with Somerset’s Simon Lee.

Warwickshire CCC’s Podcast ‘The Bears Podblast’ was recognised with the Club Innovation Award, while The Best Domestic Campaign went to Yorkshire CCC.

Talking about the awards, Gordon Hollins, ECB Chief Operating Officer said: “Nights like tonight give us the chance to say thank you and to recognise the work put in by the hundreds of staff who play a vital role in delivering the success of our professional game.

“Alongside our well deserving winners I’d like to pay tribute to all of the shortlisted nominees, you are all making a huge difference. The BOCAs allow us to celebrate the work going on across the country to enable our domestic game to thrive, and to help our counties learn from a wide range of speakers at our Business of Cricket Conference.

“I’d like to thank Mary Cahill and her volunteering team from the Cricket World Cup 2019, Justin Hopwood from Lancashire, Nick Sykes from FutureBrand and the BBC’s Barbara Slater and Ben Gallop for sharing some fascinating insights with us throughout the day.”

Business of Cricket Award Winners:

Warmest Welcome – Nottinghamshire

Club Innovation – Warwickshire

Welcome Families – Hampshire

Match Operations Unsung Hero – Carrie Lloyd (Worcestershire)

Best Domestic Campaign – Yorkshire

Most Improved Match Day Experience – Durham

Inspiring Fan Loyalty – Nottinghamshire

Growth Strategy – Worcestershire

Volunteer of the Season – MCC

Commercial Partnership – Durham

Unleashing Cricket in the Community – Leicestershire

Rising Star – David Jackson (Durham)

Outgrounds – Adrian Long (Beckenham)

One Day pitches – Karl McDermott (Hampshire) & Simon Lee (Somerset)

Three and Four Day pitches – Lee Fortis (Surrey)

Appreciation of Service – Mick Hunt