Only a few days after winning back the Ashes, England women captain Charlotte Edwards went back to school to inspire the next generation of Ashes winners. She was also celebrating the news that the Chance to Shine schools' cricket campaign is on the verge of reaching its one millionth girl.
With the figure currently 983,000, the milestone will be reached during the autumn school term and Edwards visited the Willows Primary School in Wythenshawe on Wednesday with a special companion: the Ashes trophy. She took part in a cricketing session with the girls' cricket team, who also had the chance to get their hands on the trophy.
Edwards said: "It's fantastic that Chance to Shine is about to reach its one millionth girl. As coaching ambassadors we take real pride in inspiring young girls to take up this great game. I would have loved one of the England players to come to my school when I was a girl.
"I've won a lot of things in women's cricket but this is the best thing I have ever been involved in."
The visit was part of Edwards’ work as a coaching ambassador for Chance to Shine. Seven of the England team work as ambassadors for the charitable campaign to keep cricket alive in schools. They are not central contracts but are designed to give the players the flexibility to train and play international cricket while earning a living. A partnership with the England & Wales Cricket Board allows the coaching ambassadors to act as role models to inspire thousands more schoolchildren, especially girls, to play cricket.
Edwards, Lydia Greenway, Jenny Gunn, Danni Hazell, Heather Knight, Beth Morgan and Susie Rowe support Chance to Shine through coaching, training teachers and delivering assemblies. They play a major role in promoting the development of girls' cricket. Last year, the England women coached 15,000 girls through Chance to Shine.
Since 2005, Chance to Shine has brought cricket and its educational benefits to 7,000 state schools and has educated over two million children through cricket. The programme costs £5million a year to run, the equivalent of £15 per child.