Give Young People a Chance to shine, says Atherton

Give Young People a Chance to shine, says Atherton

Chance to shine has reached over 33,000 young people in its first six weeks, attracting a broader, more diverse range of talent and enthusiasm into the game, according to its Mid-Term Review.

Chance to shine is the Cricket Foundation’s scheme set up specifically to enable more state schools in England and Wales to enjoy and benefit from competitive cricket. It is a campaign for Education, recognising the power of team sports, competition and cricket in particular to transform young lives educationally, personally and socially. Chance to shine will also play a much-needed role in bringing more young people into cricket, inspiring them to reach the highest levels of which they are capable.

Cricket faces fierce competition between individual sports and other leisure pursuits for youngsters’ time, commitment and talent. It also requires organization, excellent teachers and coaches and extensive playing facilities. This has meant that the number of youngsters being given the chance to play cricket at school has been declining fast over the past three decades. Through Chance to shine these issues are being addressed.

Mike Atherton, former England captain and Cricket Foundation Trustee, issued a warning to the game. “We must help more youngsters take up cricket for their own good, for the good of their communities but also to help the national cause. Cricket in this country needs to move further up the sporting “food chain”; the game needs to be more widely available and to reach many more young people from all backgrounds. Chance to shine is creating wider and more diverse pools of talent from which ultimately the national team will also benefit. The impact Chance to shine has made is enormously encouraging but substantially more work and resource is still required.”

In this the first year of Chance to shine, 600 schools are benefiting from the programmes. The observations of Judy Coles, Head at The Hague Primary School in East London, are typical of almost every teacher involved. “Chance to shine has set children’s hearts on fire. The quality of coaching has been outstanding and the children, 90% of whom are Bangladeshis, have thrived in every way – relishing the cricket matches and learning how to be leaders and team players. Throughout the World Cup, cricket even managed to displace football within our playground”.

Wasim Khan, the Cricket Foundation’s Operations Director, said, “I’m delighted with the progress being made. Chance to shine, the single biggest grassroots initiative ever undertaken, has been enthusiastically welcomed by both clubs and schools and we’re on our way to creating strong cricket cultures in the schools. The top priority is for significant additional funding to enable us to get cricket back into more state schools so that all young people, both girls and boys, can benefit. We know things need to change and now know just what can be achieved”.

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