By Charles Randall
2 April 2015
2 April 2015
A good example of commerce really helping the game is Lycamobile's backing of Chance To Shine's street cricket programme.
The new partnership between the 'world’s biggest international mobile virtual network operator' and the charity was launched at the Kia Oval recently, an event attended by the England all-rounder Ravi Bopara.
The scheme that brings tape-ball cricket to under-privileged urban areas has been running since 2008, now under the banner of Chance To Shine Street. The hope is to promote "social cohesion within diverse communities", something cricket has always been good at.
Chance To Shine Street is free of charge for all participants, and weekly six-a-side games are arranged for eight to 15 year-olds all year round at venues such as housing estates, parks, caged areas and indoor community venues. A tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape, a couple of second-hand bats and a wicket is all the equipment that is required.
Bopara said: “Tape ball cricket is so simple: get a tennis ball, tape it up, let’s play cricket. It speeds up the game, it’s exciting and I used to love it as a kid. It’s brilliant from Lycamobile to back the street programme. It’s very kind and I’m sure they’ll benefit from the partnership.”
As most clubs would attest, enthusiasm is rarely in short supply when children are involved. Bopara said: “Chance to Shine Street can help massively by giving kids access to somewhere to play cricket. They just want a place to play cricket, they don’t care how it’s done. and sometimes those kids don’t have the opportunity in inner cities.”
In February a national tape ball competition was organised by Middlesex Cricket Board at Canary Wharf for inner city teams from London, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester. Well over 100 young players turned up at the Play-On Sports venue, and Chance To Shine reported that London made the most of their 'home' advantage, with Tower Hamlets beating Barking & Dagenham in the final.
As a bonus, players were given the chance to find out how fast they could bowl, thanks to a speed gun provided by Kent Cricket Board. The fastest bowler recorded an impressive 60mph. One of the organisers, Richard Joyce, said the standard of cricket had been high. “It has been good to see young people from different cities talking to each other and developing friendships,” he added. “We believe that every child, no matter where they live, should have the opportunity to enjoy cricket. Competitions like this are just one way of achieving this.”
Since 2005 the Chance to Shine Schools programme has helped reverse the decline in cricket in state schools. Only 10 per cent in this sector offered meaningful cricket before the scheme started. These days, with the involvement of all 39 county boards and hundreds of cricket clubs, there are more than two million boys and girls in over 10,000 schools playing and learning the game.
Chance to Shine launched an appeal for funds in January, known as Second Innings, with a target of raising £25 million to reach at least one million more young people in schools and communities by 2020.