Bringing cricket to a new audience

Chance to Shine Street is focused on giving children in inner-city areas the opportunity to play cricket. For many, they already love the sport and they simply need somewhere to play but for a group of children in North London this is something completely different.

The Islington Street project runs at the Sobell Centre and many of the children who attend are from Eritrean backgrounds. Middlesex Cricket have worked closely with the Eritrean Youth Club (EYC) to set up the sessions and as Ghebrenegus Ghile from EYC explains, the children have really taken to the sport: “Most of the children are from Eritrean backgrounds. Cricket has never been one of the games played in the country of their origin. We thought this was one of the best opportunities as soon as we introduced it. The majority have been playing football and basketball but now, it seems, what they wanted most is cricket.”

Playing cricket is having an incredible effect on the children. 11 year-old Delilah says she wasn’t really a ‘sporty person’ when she started at the sessions but thanks to playing with her friends and the inspirational coach Mikey Thompson she’s changed her opinion about sport and about herself: “What I enjoy is playing with everyone, it’s nice to see a big community come together and it’s just fun. It helps me grow, I think it helps me with being a stronger person.”

Her friend Robel agrees that the power of cricket can have a huge impact “We make friends as well as playing cricket, sport can always bring people together and that’s what I love about it.” Robel hadn’t played much before but was open to new opportunities: “It’s always good to try new things and I wanted to just try it. After I started playing it a lot I found my passion for cricket. I kept on persisting and trying my best and now I really enjoy the sport.”

Selina is another child who hadn’t played the sport before she started two years ago. She’s a natural leader and support from the coaches has allowed her to learn how to help others who join the sessions: “I know how they feel when they’ve just joined ‘cause I was in their shoes once.” Selina sees cricket as a release, a way to enjoy herself: “When I play cricket I feel like nothing can stop me. Cricket makes me feel like I’m flying.”

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