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'We will help Yorkshire to "clean slate" and promote diversity, inclusivity'

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By B. Shrikant

Mumbai, May 2 (IANS) Clean Slate Films and Clean Slate, an India-based entertainment streaming business that has female empowerment as its motto, on Sunday broke new grounds to unveil its name on the main pavilion of Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Headingly Cricket Ground.

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Clean Slate, a company founded by Karnesh Ssharma, brother of actor Anushka Sharma, wife of former India captain Virat Kohli, and Amreesh A Chandra, in April became the first Indian business to land a sponsorship deal with a major sports venue in the UK. The India-based company is in the process of launching what it claims is “the world’s only female-forward, female-first original-content OTT streaming platform”.

In a wide-ranging partnership with Yorkshire CCC, Clean Slate also got branding rights on the outfits of Northern Diamonds, the women’s cricket team in Yorkshire and plans to explore a partnership between the Clean Slate Foundation and the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, with the prospect of building a community enterprise based in the county to be known as Clean House.

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Both co-founders — Karnesh Ssharma and Amreesh A Chandra — on Sunday interacted with IANS over email to explain their reasons for getting into a deal with Yorkshire CCC, which has been facing a lot of backlash over the allegations of institutional racism by Asian-origin cricketer Azeem Rafiq.

Excerpts from the interview:

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Q: How confident are you that the negative feelings won’t impact your plans and brand?

Karnesh Ssharma: The past has been a catalyst for change, and YCCC have been extremely courageous to own up to their shortcomings and to not only be better but to be the best. With the capable leadership of Lord Patel, and through our partnership with the club, I am confident YCCC will be re-strengthened not just for its cricketing prowess, but for the values it seeks to uphold — of diversity and inclusivity.

This is a “clean slate” of sorts for the Club, no pun intended, and we are excited to be partnering on this mission.

This is going to be really impactful, as we are not just working with the existing members and teams but nurturing the next generation –- who will grow up to be leaders and changemakers in their own right. A prime mission for us is to inspire and encourage more young females into the sport, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds, and to truly make the sport inclusive and diverse.

Q: Was Yorkshire your only choice? Did you consider any other county for this partnership?

Karnesh Ssharma: With YCCC, we have the opportunity to forge a new partnership, and build something systemic and long-term, ground-up. The fact that we had such a receptive and willing organisation, who are truly aligned with our values and mission, made YCCC our prime choice.

We are certainly not ruling out further ventures of this nature in the future but at this moment our full attention and priority is on cementing a prosperous partnership with YCCC and the county of Yorkshire. This is the perfect partnership between two organisations with bold ambitions to become tentpoles for diversity and acceptance.

Q: How did this idea of the partnership with Yorkshire CCC originate?

Amreesh A Chandra: It is a partnership built on common values — Clean Slate places inclusivity and diversity at the forefront of its business, and we truly believe in partnering with like-minded organisations and people to bring this forward to the community.

The fact that Yorkshire County Cricket Club shares these values, has prompted us to build this partnership.

I had the opportunity to connect with Lord Patel, the Chairman of the YCCC, and other senior members of the club, to understand their vision and mission, and discuss the impact Clean Slate could bring to not only the Cricket Club but to the wider community and beyond. We came out of the discussions extremely energised to start the work -– and I am proud to inform you that we are now the Principal Partners of not just the YCCC, but also of Northern Diamonds — their women’s team.

Q: What was the idea behind choosing Yorkshire at a time when it is dealing with so much negative publicity?

Amreesh A Chandra: The fact of the matter is YCCC recognised the work needed in boosting inclusivity and diversity at their club, and to re-build the trust of its community, stakeholders, and the whole nation. They genuinely showed interest in initiating the change, and at Clean Slate, we are incredibly excited to work with them to support their rebuilding project.

We also believe in the power of sports, entertainment, and the film industry as a medium to reach the hearts and minds of millions of people, and to create a conversation — in fact, we embody this responsibility in all our work. Clean Slate truly believes in inclusivity and diversity, to empower women in the industry — not just in front of the camera, but across all levels, be it technicians, crew, or support staff.

We also built Clean Slate as the world’s only female-forward, female-first original-content streaming platform. We seek to jump at any opportunity where we can propagate these values, and with Yorkshire, we have the chance to reach a new set of communities and audiences. With this partnership, our ambition is to help make the Headingley Cricket Ground a beacon for equality in Yorkshire and the sport in general. We are looking forward to a great partnership with the club.

Q: What are your plans for the future? How do you want to develop this partnership?

Amreesh A Chandra: The partnership between Clean Slate and YCCC is a landmark moment. We’re incredibly proud to be the first Indian company to have their name prominently featured within a UK sports ground. Our partnership with the club is a reaffirmation of the valued relationship between the UK and India and is being implemented right on the heels of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent visit to India.

We are working on exciting ventures which will have a phenomenal impact on the community -– we are launching a funding strategy to provide free cricket wear and equipment to young female cricketers to take up the sport, and to battle the rising costs of participating in the sport. We also plan to develop a new Clean Slate enterprise, to be known as Clean House –- which will be physically based in Yorkshire and promote, build and invest in the community through film, arts, sports and education – under the acronym ‘FASE’.



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