Five star reward for school
The Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, chose a Chance to Shine supported by Brit Insurance school for his first major sports visit outside London.
Mr Robertson joined pupils at Ling Bob Junior, Infant and Nursery School in Halifax on their last day of term to help celebrate their fifth and final year of Chance to Shine.
Deputy headteacher Dorian Brooksby took a special assembly that reflected on the impact that Chance to Shine has had on the school since it was first introduced. Mr Brooksby described how cricket has helped to improve children’s behaviour both on the playground and in the classroom, especially as a result of the MCC Spirit of Cricket initiative.
The Minister handed out certificates to the winning house cricket teams and a special MCC Spirit of Cricket trophy to six pupils who had demonstrated great sportsmanship on the field throughout the summer term.
Coaches from the local cricket club, Illingworth CC, then took a coaching session for pupils in the school playground and Mr Robertson, a keen cricketer who was encouraged to play by his father when he was young, joined in an inter-class cricket match.
The Minister spoke enthusiastically about the benefits of cricket for young people.
"Like all competitive sport, cricket can teach pupils life skills such as team work, leadership, winning and losing and respect for others," he said. "Schools can use sport to appeal to pupils who may not otherwise be interested."
Andrew Watson, Director of Development at Yorkshire Cricket Board, added: “Chance to Shine is the biggest grassroots initiative in Yorkshire. We have 34 projects and will bring another 11 clubs onto the scheme next year. It's making a big difference and is helping to link clubs and school across the county.
"We hope that Yorkshire can continue to be a flagship area for Chance to Shine and a special thanks to Jim Love from The Cricket Foundation for his support and work since the start."
Ling Bob is a popular community school for 315 pupils, aged four to 11, serving a pocket of high deprivation. Free school meals are above 40 per cent and there are currently 16 languages in the school with children from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds.
Head teacher of Ling Bob, Mrs Solan, said: "There is a focus on sportsmanship in cricket which can be transferred back into school. We use cricket to help children with behavioural difficulties; building up their self esteem and providing them with transferrable skills. Chance to Shine has also given parents a focus and an opportunity to get involved."
Parents of the pupils were at the school to watch today’s Chance to Shine session. One parent, Jacquie Graham, whose son Ben played on the outfield at Lord’s last year as a result of the scheme, said that the school and pupils were lucky to receive free cricket coaching.
“It’s a unique experience for the children and they’ve made some great friendships, as well as learning skills and gaining confidence," she said.
Children from Years 5 and 6 also showed their enthusiasm for the game during the coaching and match. Chloe, aged 11, said: “Cricket’s really taught me how to behave in sport and in general. If you lose you shake hands and still have fun.”
James, aged 10, explained why he likes cricket.
“Everyone can join in and it’s taught us how to respect the opposition and the umpire," he said. "Even if you don’t agree with the umpire’s decision you’ve got to just get on with it.”
Summing up the Minister’s visit to Ling Bob and Chance to Shine in general, Mr Brooksby added: "Today's been absolutely wonderful. It's really good to see parents getting involved and to hear their feedback. We will continue to carry on what Chance to Shine has started through the school’s teachers and support assistants. It’s been the best experience of my 28 years in teaching.”