Chance to Shine could be unable to sustain its work in secondary schools unless it is able to raise half a million pounds urgently.
The charity announced a GBP3million grant from the National Lottery through Sport England on Wednesday which will help it expand its Street cricket programme. But concerns have grown that it will be forced to discontinue other parts of its agenda unless more funding is found.
Those cuts are set to hit girls’ cricket, in particular, and leave the charity unable to build on the success of the England women’s team at the 2017 World Cup. ESPNcricinfo understands the most vulnerable schemes include the secondary school girls-only after-school sessions and the Chance to Compete scheme which provides state school children an opportunity to play competitive cricket – with hard and soft balls – on a level playing field, rather than seeing them eclipsed by children from independent schools.
While the ECB provides the bulk of the funding for Chance to Shine’s work in primary school and Sport England provides the bulk of the funding for the Street programme, there is currently no funding for the secondary school work.
“The real loss will be girls’ cricket in secondary schools as we’ve had a major impact in this area over the last four years,” Chance to Shine head of communications Fabian Devlin told ESPNcricinfo. “We know there’s a real appetite for cricket among girls in secondary schools and we also know that cricket can develop them socially, emotionally as well as physically. We need to raise at least 500,000 this year to continue running girls’ only school cricket clubs and our Chance to Compete scheme – without this we simply can’t run any cricket in secondary schools.”
There was some encouragement for the charity on Wednesday, however. Asked by ESPNcricinfo whether the government could do more to support cricket, the new secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock MP – himself a keen cricketer – replied: “Yes. Chance to Shine have done a brilliant job, which is one of the reasons we, through Sport England, are funding them with 3m today to expand the amount of community cricket.
“They’ve done a great job in primary schools, but there’s more to do in secondary schools, especially now cricket is a sport played by girls and boys. The England women’s World Cup win was testament to how it has fully matured as a sport for both men and women. So, I absolutely think there’s more to do and I look forward to working with Sport England, the ECB and people who love cricket right across the country.”
Hancock, Heather Knight and Lord Patel, an independent director at the ECB, were among the participants in a ‘Street cricket’ competition in Lambeth on Wednesday that marked the announcement of the 3m grant.
Chance to Shine Street used the tape-ball cricket format to engage young people who have proved hard to reach through the traditional format of the game. Eight out of 10 participants are not members of cricket clubs, nearly a third live in the 10% most deprived areas of England and two-thirds of participants are from South Asian backgrounds. Street projects run somewhere in the country on 353 days of the year.