Ahwais Khan, 16, from Saltley in Birmingham joined Chance to Shine Street as a 12 year-old. Ahwais was a handful for his teachers. “I was disturbing lessons and getting loads of detentions,” he admits, “It definitely affected my grades. Outside school I was mixing with the wrong crowd and just messing about.”
Since he started on the Street programme Ahwais has made the school cricket team every year and as even become captain. “I would never, ever have got near that team. It’s given me loads of confidence and responsibility. I’ve matured a lot from it.”
His improved behaviour has also helped with his studies. “I’ve been on the right path for a couple of years now, improving my behaviour, improving my grades,” he explains, “At the moment I’m passing all my exams. I’ve not had one detention all year.”
Ahwais has no regrets moving away from his old circle of friends: “Now I see them just hanging around on the streets. Some have got in trouble with the police for knife crime. That would definitely e me if I hadn’t got involved in the Street programme.”
In areas struggling to engage girls in cricket it sometimes takes an inspirational coach to spark an interest. Luckily in north east London we had two! Hannah Newman and Saba Nasim, both newly qualified coaches, promoted the Street programme enthusiastically to girls in local schools and community centres.
They soon had a number of regular participants who attended weekly sessions and formed their own girls’ team, the ‘Redbridge Rangers’, winners of the first Street girls’ competition. Hannah and Saba not only provided cricket coaching for the girls, but also organised workshops to teach broader life skills, such as first aid. They promoted cultural awareness in sessions by helping to fit prayer breaks into the schedule for the Muslim girls. For the girls on Redbridge, Saba and Hannah are much more than just their cricket coaches, they are true friends.
Saba has been nationally recognised for her work receiving the Coach of the Year Award at the Asian Cricket Awards and the AllOutCricket Club Awards. She was delighted with the awards: "It pleases me to know that the girls I work with will be so made up knowing I have won coach of the year. There are many female coaches out there doing a great job, so I would like to praise them for the work that that they are doing. Hopefully this sends a positive message.”
Shakeel Ahmed, 21, from Tower Hamlets has been involved in our Street cricket programme for six years. Previously, his lack of focus led to him hanging around with a bad crowd. He explains, “Before, I wasn’t thinking too much about the future and I was getting in trouble because I wasn’t involved in anything.”
Cricket has helped Shakeel to move away from negative influences. His coach encouraged him to take a coach education course, funded by the charity, when he turned 16.
After completing his course, Shakeel started work as a paid apprentice coach delivering Street projects in Tower Hamlets’ schools and communities. He’s since gained a Finance and Accountancy degree at the University of East London – paid for out of his coaching income – and Middlesex Cricket Board has offered him a fulltime community coaching role.
“Without Chance to Shine Street I would have no other skills, no work experience, no paid work,” says Shakeel, “I’d be worried about my future. Now I can afford to be calm and I have no need to worry.”
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