One Million Girls Lord It Up For Chance To Shine


England cricketer Stuart Broad paid a surprise visit to a class of unsuspecting primary school pupils from South London yesterday (Friday 6 June).

The event was the culmination of ‘Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week’. Hundreds of schools across the country have turned their timetables over to cricket themed activities, both in the playground and in the classroom.

The schools’ cricket charity Chance to Shine and Yorkshire Tea invited 30 lucky Year 5 children from Sacred Heart Primary School to take part in a media skills lesson with some of the country’s leading cricket journalists at the Kia Oval.

The young press packers turned the tables on the media by asking them a series of probing questions, from how they entered the industry to their top tips for covering a story in print, broadcast and online.

Fielding the questions were: Wisden and Daily Mail correspondent Lawrence Booth, The Sun’s John Etheridge, Dean Wilson from the Daily Mirror, freelance cricket journalist Chris Stocks, Adam Hathaway from the Sunday People and BBC Test Match Special producer Adam Mountford.

The journalists helped the children prepare questions, before setting up a mock press conference, with one of the pupils’ teacher playing the role of an England cricket captain.

But the children received the biggest surprise of their lives when a real England captain, Stuart Broad, walked into the room and sat in the hot seat.

Luckily for them, the journalists had prepared them well and the children immediately started to ask Stuart some searching questions; from what his dream job would be (‘a Top Gear presenter’) to what career he might have followed if he hadn’t made it as a professional cricketer (‘a sports physio’).

Speaking straight after the press conference, Stuart Broad said, “It was really good fun. It was great to see the work the kids had put in, all the preparation. Walking in, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but you could really tell the kids had taken time and care putting their questions together, which made for a really interesting press conference.

“I hope today will inspire the kids to follow in my sporting footsteps….it’s not necessarily about being a sportsman. It’s about the opportunities that can arise, like being a sports journalist or a physio…It can really open the children’s eyes to the opportunities around sport.”

After the press conference, Yorkshire Tea laid on a traditional cricket tea for the children including sandwiches, cakes and scones with jam and cream.

Commenting on the event, Joshua King, 10, from Battersea said, ‘It was interesting. I learned that it’s hard and fun at the same time to be a cricket player. My jaw dropped when Stuart Broad walked through the door. The tea was yummy too!”

His class mate Cyran Taylor. 10, added, “It was a really good, learning experience to meet all the journalists and find out how their lives are. And, as for meeting Stuart Broad, that was a real surprise. I was completely stunned – England’s Twenty20 captain was right in front of me!”

Asked if he had to pinch himself to believe it, Cyran replied, “I had to slap myself!”, BBC’s Adam Mountford said, “It was absolutely brilliant. It was genuinely exciting when Stuart came into the room and the children asked him some really good – and cheeky – questions. It wasn’t all half-volleys for Stuart, he faced some really tough questions. There could well be some journalists of the future, here, and I’m slightly worried for my job!”

Earlier this week, Sacred Heart Primary enjoyed a day of cricket and Asian-themed activity to tie in with the Sri Lanka and India series in England this summer. Bollywood dancing, creative writing and curry making were all on the menu.

Head teacher of Sacred Heart, Jarrod Brading, summed up the final special event at the Kia Oval saying, “It’s been an amazing day. As educators, the best thing for us to do is to give children  aspirations about what they could do as a future career. To see people so passionate about their subject and willing to share their expertise with children has been really great. And then, of course, for the children to meet Stuart Broad was the icing on the cake.”

The event’s brainchild was Sam Ward, Yorkshire Tea’s Brand PR manger who helped set up the unique opportunity for the children. She said, “It’s lovely to hear the kids formulate their questions and to see them working with these great journalists, who’ve all been incredible with them. It was a delight to be able to introduce Stuart and some of the kids’ faces were an absolute picture!

Former Governor of the Bank of England Lord Mervyn King helped to launch Chance to Shine in 2005 to reverse the decline in cricket in state schools. Over two million children have since received cricket coaching and competition through the programme – nearly a half of them girls – and the ultimate aim is to give all young people the chance to play and learn through cricket.

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