Chance to Shine is the ground-breaking programme taking cricket back into state schools, from where it has been so regularly absent for so long. Established in 2005 (the same year as England’s memorable Ashes victory against Australia), this year C2S engaged with its six millionth young person – an unbelievable achievement. This has all been achieved with the excellent support of the ECB, Sport England, county boards across the country and a host of charitable funders, including WNST.
The philosophy of C2S is that cricket has the potential to teach children not just the game itself but a host of life skills around discipline, teamwork, leadership and strategy. Over the years, C2S coaches have seen young participants increase their personal confidence, improve their educational attainment and move their life chances forward significantly, all through playing cricket.
C2S supports young people through two distinct programmes schools and Street. Across the country coaches are going into, principally, primary schools, working with teachers to bring cricket back onto the curriculum. Using whatever facilities each school has available, children will be engaged to have fun and to learn. “Street” sessions are run out in the community, mostly for older young people, again using the best available local environment, an open space, sports hall or outdoor games area, to bring cricket back into neighbourhoods where the opportunity is otherwise unavailable.
For several years, WNST has been pleased to fund the Street project in Brent, held in Willesden Sports Centre. This has engaged with a large number of mostly south Asian young men, honing their cricketing skills and supporting their personal development, in an area where there are few opportunities to play the game in a more formal setting (which in itself might be off-putting).
Some participants will inevitably also show a real talent for the game, as well as boundless enthusiasm. Any number of C2S players have gone on to play club and representative cricket. And this year, the programme saw its first alumni pull on an England shirt, when Issy Wong and Lauren Bell both made their debuts for the national team at Taunton in the ODI v South Africa.
But the programme is really all about the development of each individual young participant and the stories of personal achievement are inspiring.
These successes were celebrated at the C2S annual awards evening at Lord’s on 24th November at which WNST was represented. The outstanding work of coaches, teachers and participants were highlighted in a series of presentations across the evening, with the finale being the award of Participant of the Year, voted for by C2S supporters, to Samreen Begum, from Warwickshire, whose passion for the game is inspiring many other young women from minority ethnic backgrounds to overcome the cultural barriers to their participation in the game. Congratulations Samreen.