Sam Billings signs a t-shirt for a young cricketer at a Chance to Shine coaching session © Chance to Shine
The England & Wales Cricket Board has announced that it will be doubling its investment in Chance to Shine, the cricket charity that was founded in 2005 to address the decline of the sport in state schools.
Following a decade of pioneering work in the grassroots game, during which time more than 3 million schoolchildren have been introduced to cricket, the ECB yesterday announced that, from October 2017, at least £2.5m will be donated annually to Chance to Shine, with a further £500,000 to be made available for matched funding.
According to Luke Swanson, Chance to Shine’s chief executive, the extra investment will targeted on primary schools, with the aim of reaching an additional 200,000 children a year. This places the charity right at the heart of the ECB’s game-wide strategy, as spelt out through their framework, Cricket Unleashed, to inspire more people, especially families, to get involved with cricket.
“When we work in primary schools, we have the opportunity to introduce the game to every child irrespective of background, gender or parental involvement,” said Swanson. “In a primary school, cricket has the chance to reach the whole community, and give kids of all backgrounds the chance to play together.”
Matt Dwyer, the ECB’s director of participation and growth, said that the timing of the announcement was designed to maximise the opportunity that the sport has in the coming years to reconnect the sport with its public. With the Champions Trophy and Women’s World Cup coming up on home soil next year, followed by the men’s World Cup and the Ashes in 2019, the drive to attract new players and supporters begins now.
“It is not just about seeing cricket survive, it’s about seeing cricket thrive for generations,” he said. “As a game we are very much focused on inspiring that next generation, and taking cricket to classrooms and playgrounds across the country.
“We believe cricket is uniquely placed to enrich the lives of young people, whether that be through the development of nine of the 10 fundamental movements skills, the fact that we are the only sport that incorporates our values into the official rules of the game, or the fact that cricket can deliver so many in-class curriculum outcomes.
Cricket has the ability to inspire kids in our communities in a way like no other and we will do that together with Chance to Shine.”
The funding boost was announced by Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, during Chance to Shine’s annual awards dinner at Lord’s on Wednesday evening, following a coaching session at St Mary and St Peter’s Primary School in south-west London, attended by the England batsman, Sam Billings.
“Every career starts at the bottom level so it’s fundamental that these kids get the chance to play many sports, especially cricket,” said Billings. “In many schools around the country its football dominated, cricket is not on the curriculum.
“Certainly in Bangladesh with England we had this conversation. I think it’s about a 50/50 split in terms of who went to state and independent schools, and club cricket plays a massive role too in getting that relationship right. Club cricket was a great benefit to me growing up but again, it starts with the schools.”
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo