England cricketer Ravi Bopara this week launched ‘Chance to Shine Street Youth’, a new initiative aimed at getting kids off the streets and playing cricket by the charity Chance to Shine.
The project is the youth element of the charity’s community programme ‘Chance to Shine Street’ and will be sponsored by mobile network operator Lycamobile.
Chance to Shine Street is free to take part in and offers 8 to 15-year-olds with no access to cricket facilities the chance to show off their skills at year-round weekly sessions held at community venues as well as designated areas around housing estates and parks.
The format used is six-a-side tape ball cricket.
All-rounder Bopara helped launch the program at the Kia Oval.
“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”, Bopara said.
“Tapeball 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”, he added.
Luke Swanson, Chief executive of Chance to Shine, said: “Chance to Shine Street is fast-paced, hard-hitting, loud, fun and open to anyone. It has a proven record of attracting young people, supporting their development and keeping them engaged in the game.”
Chance to Shine Street is the latest cricket initiative to receive the backing of Lycamobile and its enigmatic Sri Lankan-origin chairperson Subaskara Alirajah.
“We have always had strong ties to cricket with our sponsorship of Surrey County Cricket Club and UK Test Match Grounds, so to support Chance to Shine and their ‘Street’ programme is a perfect synergy for us”, Mr Alirajah says.
“Lycamobile’s mission is to keep communities connected wherever they are in the world which is at the core of the Chance to Shine work – something we are very proud to be associated with”, he adds.
With the partnership Lycamobile also becomes headline sponsor of the Chance to Shine Street Awards, which reward and recognise players and coaches involved in the programme.
Launched in 2008, Chance to Shine aims to bring cricket to young people in urban areas where there are few green spaces and fewer traditional cricket clubs.
Youth projects currently run nationally in eight key areas, including cities home to large cricket-loving migrant communities such as Birmingham, Leicester, London, Manchester and Bristol.
The charity identified towns and cities that lacked cricket provision and areas within them that were socially deprived or had high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour.
The charity is also using the game to promote social cohesion and connect young people from different backgrounds in diverse communities.
Chance to Shine Street has reached nearly 40,000 young people since 2008 and, working closely with local county cricket boards, will bring cricket to a further 3,000 participants in 2015.