Schools' cricket gets a £7.5m boost from Sport England
Thousands of young people in secondary schools across England will get the opportunity to play cricket, thanks to major new investment from Sport England.
The £7.5million National Lottery investment to the Cricket Foundation's 'Chance to Shine' initiative will help introduce the game to 400,000 young people over the next three years. The funding will help reduce the number of children leaving the game when they move from primary to secondary school and will also contribute to a lower drop-off rate in sport among teenagers, especially in the 14 to 16 year age group.
The Cricket Foundation will deliver a cricket programme to over 1,000 state schools through the ECB’s national network of 38 county cricket boards. Creating strong links between community sports clubs and schools is the central focus and the charity is planning a three-pronged approach: establishing satellite clubs in schools, embedding competition within them and providing training opportunities for young people.
Local cricket clubs will work closely with coaches, young people and teachers to set up a satellite cricket club on school sites. Pupils will be at the heart of decision-making and shape how the school club is run. Activity at the club may range from extra-curricular coaching and forums to discuss club activity, to organising social events and ambassador visits.
As well as helping more young players move into their local cricket club, the satellite clubs will give young people a sense of ownership and will help them develop important life skills such as leadership, teamwork and cooperation. These skills will help them become role models in their local community to inspire younger children to take up the game.
Competition is a key motivation for young people in secondary schools and the Cricket Foundation plans to expand its 'Chance to Compete' format; fast-moving eight-a-side matches played in less than an hour. During the winter, schools will be supported to hold indoor soft-ball competitions in school sports halls and community centres, with the hardball equivalent played outside during the spring and summer terms. The new offer to secondary schools will increase competitive cricket opportunities by encouraging each to play a minimum of five competitive matches annually.
Finally, the secondary school offer will include training for young people to support the long-term impact of the programme. Pupils aged 14 to 16 with an interest in developing their cricket knowledge can take a 'Cricket Young Leaders Award'. The course, delivered by ECB trained tutors, enables young people to become more actively involved in the planning and delivery of club and competitive cricket opportunities. Additional training will provide young people with business skills to help them run their clubs in a professional way.
Wasim Khan, chief executive of Cricket Foundation, said: "Sport England has been a key strategic partner for Chance to Shine over the past seven years. We are delighted that it will continue its investment in Chance to Shine and in the young people we reach for the next three years at least.
"The new programme will inspire children early on in their journey through cricket and move them through to an established sporting environment in the community. Thanks to the continued partnership, thousands of young cricketers will now no longer be lost to the game at an early age and will instead continue to play sport well beyond their teens."
Sport England Director of Sport Phil Smith said: "Chance to Shine is a fantastic initiative that is helping introduce and keep young people involved in sport. Our continued investment will help them expand the programme while also helping to address the drop off in participation that sees many young people stop playing sport in their teenage years.
"By adapting the game and making it easier for them to play, Chance to Shine is helping us inspire a generation to create a sporting habit for life."
ECB provides extensive financial and logistical support to Chance to Shine, which includes the engagement of England women's players as coaches working in schools and clubs. The board recently recommitted annual funding of £1.25million to the project to run from 2014-2018.
ECB Chief Executive David Collier said: "ECB has strongly supported Chance to Shine since its creation in 2005 and we warmly welcome today's news of continued investment in the project from Sport England.
"Chance to Shine is an integral part of ECB's wider plans to boost participation levels in cricket and our network of 38 county boards will continue to work closely with the project to help strengthen club/school links, widen provision of cricket in secondary schools and increase opportunities for children to play the game competitively. "
Since 2005, Chance to Shine has brought cricket and its educational benefits to 6,591 state schools and has reached 1.8million children. The programme costs £5million a year to run, the equivalent of £15 per child, and in 2012 gave 350,000 boys and girls competitive cricket opportunities. For more details, visit www.chancetoshine.org