National champions Upton Priory hail the impact of Chance to Shine

Chance to Shine school Upton Priory produced a fantastic team performance to become ASDA Mixed Kwik Cricket champions last week. Around 8,000 schools entered the tournament with Upton Park being named national champions. The schoolchildren also had the experience of a lifetime when they were presented with the trophy by England and Middlesex batsman Eoin Morgan.

Upton Priory’s victory followed a series of specialist sessions delivered by Cheshire Cricket Board Coaching and Development Officer Colin Grindey, manager of the Macclesfield area Chance to Shine programme. They are the first school from Cheshire to win the competition.

Teacher Andy Woof was thrilled with the school’s performance in 2012 after the Upton Priory girls team also reached the national finals, before losing to the eventual winners. Talking about the victory, Mr Woof said, “When we first entered the Macclesfield area tournament back in May, I never thought we would end up as national champions two months later. The pupils have trained so hard this year, practising twice a week and playing at lunch times. They have definitely earned their success.”

“Having Colin in the school this year has been fantastic. He was here right through the winter, whereas usually the cricket bats wouldn’t come out until after Easter.You only have to see the number of kids playing cricket at lunch time to realise what an impact the Chance to Shine scheme has made. We do have a lot of children that play locally at cricket clubs, but the biggest impact has been on those who had not previously been involved in the sport. We now have both a girls and boys & B team, made up exclusively of children who are not cricket club members. We’re also speaking to their parents and encouraging them to go over the road to join Macclesfield Cricket Club.

And after another stellar performance at the home of Leicestershire CCC, pupils from the Cheshire school were introduced to England star Eoin Morgan.

Mr Woof commented: “Eoin Morgan was really good. He spent quite some time chatting to all the lads, and they were really made up. Some of them were saying I can’t believe I hit a six in front of Eoin Morgan. When we won they were diving and jumping around, it was quite emotional really.”

Speaking about the impact Chance to Shine has had on the school, Chance to Shine coach Colin Grindey said, “You only have to walk into the school at lunch time to see all the kids are now playing cricket instead of football. The whole school has bought into the ethos of Chance to Shine, from the head to the teachers and of course the children.”

“It’s brilliant that they were able to put the skills they learned into the matches and to end up as national Kwik Cricket champions was fantastic. We’re now seeing good numbers migrate to local clubs like Macclesfield and Prestbury, so the legacy of Chance to Shine is there for all to see.”

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