Street cricket: the initiative giving urban kids the chance to shine
Brought to you by NatWest.
Sport has a powerful ability to bring people together, break down social barriers and genuinely change people’s lives. In keeping with that idea, NatWest, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the charity Chance to Shine have teamed up as part of the #NoBoundaries campaign to promote cricket as a game for all. The aim is to encourage more people to take up the sport regardless of their gender, age, background or beliefs.
In order to celebrate diversity and inclusion in sport, they are aiming to get more kids interested through promoting street cricket. As opposed to the professional format, which is played on a grass oval with eleven players on each side, street cricket can be played in sports halls and of course, the street, with no expensive kit required.
It is played with a 'tapeball'; a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape. Each team contains six players and each innings comprises twenty balls. It's very much cricket's answer to 5-a-side football, and has successfully made the sport much more accessible to a more diverse group of cricketers.
On Wednesday 25th July, NatWest and the ECB supported and hosted the Chance to Shine street cricket finals day at the University of Nottingham, and JOE went along to see what it was all about.
Enthusiasm flowed through the building as the teams, who had come from all over the country, competed for the title of national street cricket champions. The camaraderie among teammates, the sportsmanship on show, and the skill displayed by the players was testament to the success of the initiative, which has inspired children, who wouldn't have otherwise had the chance, to take up a wonderful sport.
The participants were joined by England international players James Vince, Liam Dawson, Katherine Brunt and Stuart Broad, who answered questions from the kids before presenting the Under 15s and Under 12s winning teams, Manchester Lightning and the Leicester Tigers, with their trophies after a thrilling day of intense, competitive street cricket.
It was evident how much it meant to the players to be joined by professionals they look up to. Being handed the trophy by Stuart Broad, one of England's greatest ever bowlers, is a moment that will live forever in the memory of those young boys. But it's not just boys who are benefitting from Chance to Shine - hundreds of girls are engaged in 20 girls projects nationally with around 100 from six cities coming together to participate in the inaugural girls Street Finals on 1st August in Coventry.
The long-term benefits of the initiative are plentiful. The biggest barrier preventing adults from taking part in sport is negative childhood experiences. This campaign will change that – the enjoyment that the kids experience from playing street cricket will hopefully lead to long-term participation, which will theoretically be passed down the generations.
It also increases the likelihood of England discovering the next Stuart Broad, Joe Root, or Moeen Ali. Higher participation levels and a therefore a bigger talent pool mean more chance of finding the next big thing in cricket.
Sport can be a vehicle for great social change, as NatWest are demonstrating. Cricket might have boundaries on the field, but NatWest are smashing the boundaries off it.