Without Chance to Shine few pupils at Caldicotes Primary Academy would have ever tried cricket. Instead, there are 78 pupils receiving specialist coaching at the school.
The academy is situated in Middlesbrough in one of the most deprived parts of the country, where participation in any kind of extra-curricular activity is low. Cricket to most pupils is almost a new sport, with just two pupils playing cricket for a club. “Without Chance to Shine they would probably know more about rounders than they would about cricket,” says coach Grant White.
In the three years since he first started working with Caldicotes, teacher Katherine Smith has seen the progress that the children have made with their cricket, which culminated in impressive semi-final outings for both their year 4 and year 5/6 teams in local tournaments. “We were so proud of the children. You can see that their skills are really starting to develop,” Smith says. “The tournaments take place at local clubs, so the kids get the chance to see the local clubs and the facilities.”
Many pupils at Caldicotes have had behavioural issues in the past and coach White thinks that cricket has helped address those. “Like other sports, there’s a lot in cricket that teaches you about how to behave,” White says. “Part of what we aim to do is to teach sportsmanship and it’s something I really try to emphasise in my lessons.”
Keeping children active during the summer is a challenge that teachers and parents are becoming ever more aware of. Chance to Shine offers a solution; you can now see how pupils look forward to continuing their cricket through the summer months. “I’d never played cricket before the sessions, but now I love it,” says Leon Jones, 11. “I play football as well, but I’m going to look to play for a club – and be an all-rounder!”
In any case, how much the children now love cricket is obvious. I love the sessions. If it was a 1-100 scale, it would be 110!” says 10-year-old Katie Knights. “I watch both men’s and women’s cricket, and I want to be a professional when I grow up!”
Whether or not Caldicotes Primary Academy produces a professional cricketer lots of children from deprived areas who wouldn’t have tried the sport otherwise are playing cricket, something of which all involved can be incredibly proud.