"There’s not many opportunities for girls’ sports round here outside of school”, says 15 year old Evie, but that all changed when Chance to Shine came to Teesdale in County Durham earlier this year.
Darren Brown from Chance to Shine partner Durham Cricket Board met with the head of PE at Teesdale School, Jean Brennan, back in January to discuss how to introduce girls from the comprehensive school to cricket.
Darren decided to set up a ‘satellite’ cricket club for the school and offered coaching sessions through Chance to Shine’s National Lottery funding from Sport England.
The impact has been evident. Within just a few weeks, 25 girls were regularly attending the weekly evening cricket sessions regularly at the local leisure centre.
Evie helped to spearhead the club and she soon spread the word in school, “I thought it’d be a good opportunity to get my friends involved because I don’t have much to do after school other than homework. Whereas this gives you the opportunity to run around and have a bit of fun. It’s not too serious.
Her friend Katy, also 15 agrees and thinks it sends a strong message to other girls in the area, “Cricket seems in our region like quite a boys’ sport, not that many girls play it, so it’s good for us to try it and we show them it’s not! Each week we do harder stuff so it’s always a challenge for you.”
The coaching sessions involve batting, bowling and fielding skills as well as competitive matches. The girls who take part are a mix of ages with the older children supporting their younger peers.
Jean is in no doubt about the effect the coaching has had on the Teesdale pupils, “Chance to Shine and our link with Durham Cricket Board has been invaluable in terms of enabling us to give our students opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access.”
Earlier this month the girls gave an on-pitch Kwik Cricket demonstration at the Emirates Riverside before a Durham Jets Twenty20 Blast game.
Darren is excited about the project and the fact that so many girls are attending it regularly already. He says, “I’ve been with Chance to Shine and Durham Cricket Board for 10 years now and I think it’s the best project that I’ve been involved with."
Evie also speaks passionately about the after school club she and her school friends helped to set up and run, “The amount of people who have become interested since this has started has been amazing. It’s given me and a lot of other people a chance to show their skills, a chance to show people that cricket isn’t just a boys’ sport and that anyone can get involved, no matter what age group, you can just come along and enjoy yourself!”
Chance to Shine is an independent charity that has brought cricket and its educational benefits to 11,000 state schools, like Teeside School, since 2005. It has spread the power of cricket to three million children – half of whom are girls. Donations to the charity this summer will be matched by Chance to Shine Patron Adrian Beecroft.
To donate, please visit: www.chancetoshine.org/donate
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