Cricket Soars In West London

Fairholme Primary School sits in the shadow of Heathrow airport but the jumbo jets aren’t the only thing taking off in the area. The school has been receiving Chance to Shine cricket coaching since 2015 and the sport has lifted off with the pupils.

Before Chance to Shine, the children had never experienced cricket. The school is in a very deprived area of West London and Year 5 teacher James Watson says, “There was no cricket at all before, it was mainly just football, but now all classes from Years 3 to 6 get the chance to experience a new sport in cricket.

“[Chance to Shine Coach] Raj came down and it’s been unbelievable. From nothing, we had it in the curriculum, an after-school club and ran four teams in the Borough competitions.”

The school began to embrace cricket and the sport was able to alleviate some of the more turbulent conduct amongst the pupils. James says, “It’s had a whole school effect, it helped with behaviour and helped with respect and discipline. It wasn’t just a PE lesson. Raj taught about the respect of the whole game, respecting the umpire, respecting each other, shaking hands at the end of the game. It was the whole thing.

“There’s a number of children who were flagged up as having behavioural issues but through sport, and in particular cricket, their concentration and their behaviour has improved dramatically, we have no issues whatsoever. I can’t speak highly enough of the impact it’s had on the school.

“The teachers got involved so now they’re confident teaching a sport they were totally frightened of taking before.”

Ethan, 9, said, “Before playing cricket I didn’t like working with other people but since playing I’ve learnt how to collaborate, to work with other people – also to not leave people out and make sure everyone can join in.”

James acknowledges that cricket can be seen as a very technical sport but noted that Raj was able to change and adapt the drills and the session to make sure that they were appropriate for all the children. Danny, 11, said, “I didn’t think cricket was a fun game but now I’ve had a chance to play it, you learn something new every session. It’s really enjoyable.”

In his time at the school, James has seen the impact of cricket: “Here, in a deprived area, seeing what it’s done for the children, it’s just brilliant. What [Chance to Shine] have done is just opened the children’s eyes and given them opportunities that just couldn’t have happened without their help.”

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