Three of the most formidable cricketers the game has ever seen spent the day with pupils at a Lambeth primary school on Tuesday May 22 for a Caribbean cricket day… and some ‘beach’ cricket.
Charlotte Edwards, Kevin Pietersen and Sir Vivian Richards helped celebrate Chance to Shine’s ‘Brit Insurance National Cricket Day’ at Johanna Primary School in SE1; a cricket ball’s throw away from Waterloo station. Like many of Chance to Shine’s 4,000 schools, Johanna turned its timetable over to a day of Caribbean and cricket-themed lessons to tie in with the West Indies’ tour of England.
The England Women’s captain got the ball rolling with an MCC Spirit of Cricket assembly before pupils went to their special lessons. Classes included Caribbean music with the London All Stars Steel Pan band, cricket writing with Guyanese poet John Agard and author Bob Cattell, Caribbean story-telling with actress Anika Wilson, Caribbean cookery and cricket drills and skills with a Chance to Shine coach. Year 6 students also had the unique opportunity to take part in a Q&A session with Kevin Pietersen.
Speaking at the event, Pietersen said: “Chance to Shine is great for kids. They improve their skill levels, it creates camaraderie and they develop a competitive edge, which I think is good for people growing up. It’s a brilliant initiative and one I’m proud to be associated to.”
Sir Viv Richards added, “This sort of environment is the greatest sort of platform for kids and Chance to Shine helps give them the focus of what they want to accomplish in life. It’s great that there is a concerted effort to bring cricket to these children and I know for sure that when you have a programme like this, you’re going to get something positive at some point.”
A tropical beach scene sprung up in the playground, complete with palm trees, sand, deckchairs and parrots; helping to bring a taste of the Caribbean to this corner of London. And no West Indian island would be complete without a game of beach cricket: Charlotte, Kevin and Sir Viv helped teach youngsters to sweep, switch-hit and swagger their way to victory against the paradisiacal backdrop.
Charlotte is also a coaching ambassador for Chance to Shine and is passionate about her role: “It’s very important for girls to have female role models, so for me it’s good that we’re out here and hopefully we can inspire the kids. We’ve definitely seen some talent here today.”
Summing up the day, chief executive of Chance to Shine Wasim Khan said: “It’s fantastic to see cricket once again uniting hundreds of schools and children all over the country. Brit Insurance National Cricket Day is a celebration of the game and the work that Chance to Shine is doing to try and inspire the next generation of players; and what better than way to celebrate than with a Caribbean carnival of cricket?”
Chance to Shine launched National Cricket Day in 2008 to help raise awareness of the campaign and its aim to bring the educational benefits of cricket to two million children by 2015. Over the years, England players Ravi Bopara, Katherine Brunt, Alastair Cook, Lydia Greenway, Jenny Gunn, Matt Prior and Chris Tremlett have all supported the day, through the help of the England and Wales Cricket Board and Professional Cricketers’ Association.
Last year the sports minister Hugh Robertson, governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, and cricket broadcaster Mark Nicholas took part in a ‘Dream Cricket School’ at Johanna, teaching cricket-based cross-curricular lessons.
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