The iconic home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club will be the venue for the Annual General Meeting of Leeds housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise next week in advance of an historic inter-faith cricket match under the Headingley lights. 

Unity will co-sponsor the T20 game on Monday evening (19th September) between Mount Cricket Club, a team of Muslim players from Batley, and St Peter’s XI of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican’s official cricket team made up of Rome-based priests and seminarians who will be playing the final match of their English tour.

The two sides will battle it out for the Sir John Major Friendship Cup having previously met in Rome last year with the home team securing a last ball victory.

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said he was thrilled that Headingley would be the venue for the Unity AGM - where Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE will deliver the keynote speech – followed by the game.

He said: “Unity was set up almost 30 years ago to address the housing needs of the black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds.  We have significantly expanded our range of activities since then and now manage more than 1,200 properties for tenants from all communities and ethnic backgrounds. 

“But, as our annual report entitled ‘Delivering Nationally, Delivering Locally’ vividly illustrates, we have never forgotten our roots.  That is why we are proud to co-sponsor such an inspirational sporting occasion and for our AGM to be a component part of a momentous day.  

“I look forward to setting out Unity’s many achievements from the last 12 months, before enjoying what I’m sure will be an outstanding demonstration of kinship on the cricket field.”

Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE

Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE

Lord Patel - appointed last year to the management board of the ECB, the governing body of England and Wales cricket - said:

“I believe that sport has the ability to break down boundaries and bring communities together.  Cricket, particularly with its rich and diverse history across the world, is a great example of this. 

“It is fitting that Unity is holding its AGM at YCCC prior to a very special inter-faith cricket match between Mount Cricket Club and St Peter’s XI.  Both Unity and YCCC are organisations that are committed to providing high quality services to the multi-cultural communities which they serve – both fundamentally believe in providing equality of access, experience and outcomes – whether through sport, housing or employment and education. 

“As a lifelong cricket fan and as a member of the ECB, I am so pleased that the game of cricket has been the catalyst to bring these organisations and communities together.”

Abdul A. Ravat who, in addition to his roles as player and development officer at Mount Cricket Club also serves as a Unity Enterprise board member, said:

“We are particularly grateful to Yorkshire County Cricket Club for their generosity as hosts.

“Unity’s ethos is about bringing people together and that is also the foundation of the ‘Light of Faith’ tour, which I have been privileged to organise.  The St Peter’s XI will fulfil a series of fixtures around the country including a triangular tournament at Edgbaston featuring the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI.

“Mount Cricket Club spent three wonderful days in Rome last year in the spirit of friendship.  We look forward to offering our guests similarly warm hospitality when they arrive in Yorkshire.  I hope local people will come to Headingley in large numbers to support us.”

The Unity Homes and Enterprise AGM will be held in the Executive Suite of Headingley Carnegie Stadium at 4pm followed by a buffet, with the cricket due to get underway at 6pm. 

Both events are open to everyone and admission is free.    

From left to right: Abdul A. Ravat (Mount Cricket Club) with Fr Eamonn O’Higgins (The Vatican and St Peter’s Cricket Club) and Stephen Gray (Church of England) following a tour planning meeting at Lord’s earlier this year

From left to right: Abdul A. Ravat (Mount Cricket Club) with Fr Eamonn O’Higgins (The Vatican and St Peter’s Cricket Club) and Stephen Gray (Church of England) following a tour planning meeting at Lord’s earlier this year