Ashes winner teaches Kent kids ‘respect’ through cricket

Kent and former England wicket keeper Geraint Jones went back to school today (Tuesday 28 June) to teach pupils at Westlands Primary School in Sittingbourne the importance of good sportsmanship.

The Ashes winning cricketer took part in an ‘MCC Spirit of Cricket’ assembly as part of the MCC/Chance to Shine partnership. During the interactive assembly, run by Chance to Shine and Kent Cricket Board coach Adam Hodder, around 200 pupils discussed how to win and lose graciously in sport. The children were shown the iconic image of Freddie Flintoff consoling Brent Lee after the Australians had narrowly lost at Edgbaston during the famous 2005 Ashes. Geraint described the closing stages of the match and gave the children an insight into that memorable moment of good sportsmanship and encouraged them all to follow Freddie’s example on the playing field.

The assembly hall was then split into ‘England’ and ‘Australian’ teams and several pupils took part in a ‘bowl off’ with Geraint acting as wicket keeper. Like in 2005 England just won, but the children immediately put what they had just learned into practice, shaking hands and being magnanimous in victory and in defeat.

Deputy Head teacher Mr Christian Kelly, who also took part in the bowl off, spoke enthusiastically about the assembly and Chance to Shine: “Having a positive role model like Geraint come in and inspire the children is so important. Cricket is teaching the children how to be part of a team, not just play as an individual.”

“Chance to Shine is having a very positive effect on the school. The children really enjoy it and it ‘up-skills’ teachers, like myself, who can pick up coaching strategies. Chance to Shine is raising the profile of cricket in the school which is very often dominated by football.

After the assembly, Year 6 pupils went out in the playground for a cricket coaching session with Geraint. They played a range of competitive games aimed at improving batting skills, increasing fitness and making cricket fun. Speaking after the coaching session, Geraint said, “The kids have had a lot of fun today, both in the MCC Spirit of Cricket assembly and playing cricket outside. It’s great that Chance to Shine and MCC are taking the lesson of good sportsmanship into state schools. It’s an issue that’s cropped up in the senior game and it’s massively important to teach children at an early age to play sport hard, but fair.”

‘Respect’ was the watch-word among pupils after the morning’s activity. Natasha, 11, said “You should show respect, especially if someone loses and is upset. It’s not all about winning. Her classmate Nishat, 11, admitted, “I thought today was going to be boring but it was great fun and I enjoying hitting the ball in the playground.”

Chance to Shine coach Adam Hodder summed up the day, saying, “Today’s been fantastic. The kids really got involved and with Geraint here the atmosphere was buzzing. Hopefully it’ll encourage more children to play cricket.”

In 2011, around 400,000 children in just under 4,000 ‘Chance to Shine supported by Brit Insurance’ schools will be introduced to the key MCC Spirit of Cricket messages enshrined in the Laws of the game, as a result of the MCC/Chance to Shine partnership. There are three core elements to the partnership: communicating the MCC Spirit of Cricket message to children within schools through the special assemblies, organising intra school competitions and MCC Spirit of Cricket Summer Camps.

Chance to Shine coaches are delivering the MCC Spirit of Cricket message as part of the core Chance to Shine programme. MCC and Chance to Shine have produced a special MCC Spirit of Cricket online video resource for school assemblies that cover key aspects of the MCC Spirit of Cricket.

Each Chance to Shine school is provided with an MCC Spirit of Cricket trophy to support intra school competition. This allows children to put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom. Pupils’ fair play will be recognised and rewarded at the school sessions.

Working through the County Cricket Boards, Chance to Shine and MCC will deliver 12 MCC Spirit of Cricket summer camps for children across five regions, the North, London, South West, Midlands and Wales. The camps will be girls only and each of the camps will involve members of the World Cup-winning England women’s cricket team.

Clair Gould, Community Cricket operations manager for Kent Cricket Board helps deliver Chance to Shine through local cricket clubs and coaches like Adam. She said,”Chance to Shine is giving children the opportunity to continue their interest in cricket beyond school and go on to local cricket clubs. Girls in particular have a real opportunity to play at a strong level, but most importantly it’s a chance for children to go somewhere safe with their friends and have fun.”


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