On 3 May, in the small Welsh town of Port Talbot, national cricket charity Chance to Shine delivered coaching to its four millionth young person since the organisation started in 2005. At Eastern Primary School, seven-year-old Millie-May had her very first experience of the sport alongside her Year 2 classmates.
Eastern Primary is a perfect example of the kinds of schools across the country that Chance to Shine works in to spread the power of cricket. Situated close to the steel works that dominate the town, Eastern Primary is in one of the 20% most deprived areas of Wales. For many of the pupils this is the first time they have picked up a bat and a ball. The Year 2 pupils have been learning the sport from Cricket Wales community coach Sean Evans.
Of the four million children reached by the charity, 46% are girls and Chance to Shine plays a vital role in normalising female participation in the sport. This is something which is very clear to the children as well, Millie-May said “I think it’s important that girls get the chance to play cricket because it’s not just a sport for boys. Everybody’s allowed to play cricket, it’s a sport for everybody. We all work together in a team, they can help you to get the ball. It’s important that we all learn to play together.”
As important as providing the children with the opportunity to play the sport is what children can learn from playing cricket. A recent survey of 1,049 Chance to Shine schools revealed that 86% of teachers noted their pupils had ‘developed team working skills’, whilst 81% saw ‘improved confidence’ in the students.
Meanwhile the pupils themselves have also noticed the difference that the coaching sessions are making. 64% of 3,354 pupils asked said ‘I have felt more confident playing sport’ and 61% agreed that they ‘felt happier since taking part’. Chance to Shine is working to change how pupils perceive the sport and 73% said it had ‘made me like cricket more’ with a third having played more cricket outside of school as a result of taking part in coaching sessions.
Chance to Shine Chief Executive Laura Cordingley said “It’s an incredible milestone for the organisation to have reached our four millionth child and we’re looking forward to introducing many more over the coming years to the sport. On a daily basis, we see the benefits that children receive from playing cricket, learning skills like teamwork, communication and resilience that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
“I would like to thank all our donors and supporters as well as the 39 County Boards for the integral part they have played in the success of the charity.”
Chance to Shine is supported by major funding partners ECB, Sport England and NatWest as well receiving backing from corporate partners, trusts, foundations and individual donors.
This summer, donations to Chance to Shine are being matched £ for £ by charity Patron Adrian Beecroft.