The Chance to Shine campaign to bring cricket back into state schools has now reached its two millionth child, the Cricket Foundation announced today.
The charity has achieved the landmark two years ahead of schedule, has pledged to continue beyond 2015 - the initial end of their 10-year plan - and now aims to give every child in every school the opportunity to play and learn through cricket.
The two millionth child has been named as Eddie Lidster, 11, from Ridgeway Primary School in Ridgeway near Sheffield.
He said: “We've just started playing cricket at the school. It's been really fun as it puts smiles on people's faces and that makes me smile. I love playing with my friends and I've learnt that everybody's a winner. I'll definitely keep playing and I'm going to be a batsman.”
His teacher, Brad Townsend, has no doubt about the impact Chance to Shine has had on Eddie and the school, saying: “He is absolutely beaming and it's made his day. The kids love cricket and all of the class would like to be the two millionth child. For some of them it's the first time they've ever played the game and for others it's a chance to develop their skills. They genuinely feel very lucky to have cricket at their school.”
Broadcaster Mark Nicholas, champion bat-maker Duncan Fearnley and Governor of the Bank of England Sir Mervyn King were the inspiration behind Chance to Shine.
Concerned that less than 10% of state schools provided regular organised cricket coaching or competition, the Cricket Foundation charity launched its £50million campaign in 2005. They set out to bring competitive cricket, and its educational benefits, back to at least a third of the country's state schools initially over a 10-year period.
Funding from Sport England, through the National Lottery, the England and Wales Cricket Board, Brit, Slazenger and MCC has meant that the programme can continue.
Speaking about reaching the major milestone, Wasim Khan, chief executive of the Cricket Foundation, said: “It is an incredibly proud day for all of us involved in the campaign.
“When Mark, Mervyn and Duncan had a vision to regenerate cricket in state schools many people thought it couldn't be done. Eight years on, we've reached our initial target ahead of schedule and our vision is to continue until every child, in every school, has had the opportunity to play and learn through cricket.”
Chance to Shine is strategically delivered through county cricket boards, local cricket clubs and other external agencies such as local authorities to deliver high-quality sustainable coaching and competition programmes.
Since 2005, the programme has linked 6,957 schools to 1,004 cricket clubs and qualified cricket coaches provide coaching and competition to local primary and secondary schools. Chance to Shine projects receive a minimum of two years funding to achieve a level of sustainable, competitive cricket.For more information visit chancetoshine.org