Cricket fever boosts Chance to Shine
Coinciding with a year when cricket has reached fever-pitch, 12 Chance to shine pilot schemes operating this summer have made a telling impact, suggesting that the sceptics got it wrong.
Over 4,500 youngsters from the 72 participating schools, in both rural and inner-city areas, have relished the chance to be coached, as well as to play in a number of the 400 competitive matches which were organised. Schools have readily provided access to curriculum time, involved their staff and committed to competition.
John Hodkinson, Head of Avondale Primary School in Darwen, Lancashire, reported: "In a predominantly football area, Chance to shine has moved cricket into the spotlight, replacing football as the most popular playground game."
It has not just been boys that have been inspired. The number of girls taking up the challenge has increased by 1,000 per cent (48 girls in the 72 schools were introduced to cricket in 2004; this figure rose to 536 in 2005).
The 12 clubs, which are responsible for delivering the pilot programmes, have also significantly benefited in developing stronger coaching cultures and in each recruiting enough new juniors for two new teams as a direct result of the clubs’ engagement with the schools.
The excitement generated by the npower Ashes Series has added to the momentum. Wasim Khan, Operational Director for Chance to shine, said: "In recent weeks our phones have been red hot with parents and teachers asking how their school might become part of the campaign.
"Chance to shine is not a ‘quick fix’ for cricket. We are building sustainable programmes with a structured delivery to schools over the next 10 years. We need to leave a lasting legacy."
One of England’s heroes, Matthew Hoggard, the face of the initiative, said: "It’s great that the team’s success on the pitch has resulted in so many kids wanting to play cricket and that - through Chance to shine - they now have this opportunity."