Schoolchildren take over Lord’s for the day

Schoolchildren from around the country invaded Lord’s yesterday (25th June) at a joint Chance to Shine / MCC Spirit of Cricket schools’ open day at Lord’s Cricket Ground. They were cheered on by some of their cricketing heroes during the day with former England cricketer and Ashes winner Matthew Hoggard, Mark Nicholas, Caroline Atkins and the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson MP attending to show their support.

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Chance to Shine opened the gates of Lord’s to around 600 primary school children from Chance to Shine schools based around the country, alongside local Westminster schools. The day inspired children to play and learn through cricket and to reinforce the MCC Spirit of Cricket message of ‘Play Hard, Play Fair’.

The day started with a cricketing assembly with a difference when the famous Pavilion benches, usually reserved for MCC Members, were overrun by children. Out on the field Mark Nicholas, and 2009 ICC Women’s World Cup winner, Caroline Atkins, took an assembly on the importance of playing sport in the right spirit.

The children then took part in a range of cricketing and educational opportunities across the Ground, including the chance to play on the main outfield, alongside taking part in activities such as a cooking lesson in the kitchens and tapeball cricket on the Real Tennis Court.

Talking about the day Matthew Hoggard said, “It’s great to see so many kids enjoying the great facilities. I was lucky enough to have a local club that was close by and my parents would take me to train. It’s fantastic that MCC and Chance to Shine give this opportunity to kids. I had the option of football, football or football at school.

“They [the kids] are very lucky to be here and it’s amazing to see that state schools are given more options these days, and especially with the great game of cricket.”

MCC Chief Executive Secretary, Derek Brewer, said, “The inaugural MCC Spirit of Cricket Open Day in partnership with the Cricket Foundation was a fantastic success. The day broke new ground for the Club, which has never before thrown open the Lord’s gates in such a way to so many school children at one time. It was wonderful to see the pupils enjoy the range of cricketing and educational opportunities across the Ground, and I am sure that they will remember the day for a very long time.”

“The Open Day represents the most recent initiative in the Club’s ongoing relationship with the Cricket Foundation, and I look forward to building on this success in the months and years ahead.”

Chance to Shine Chief Executive, Wasim Khan MBE, added, “We are passionate about giving children the opportunity to play cricket and what better way to inspire them to play this great game than to invite them to play on the hollowed turf of Lord’s. It truly was a day that they will never forget.”

“It was also hugely encouraging to see so many children take on board the key message of playing sport in the correct spirit.”

To help teach young people how to play sport in a competitive but fair spirit, MCC and Chance to Shine are delivering a scheme to encourage fair play in schools. Chance to Shine coaches are delivering assemblies in good sportsmanship to around 400,000 children in 4,500 state schools, as part of the MCC Spirit of Cricket scheme.

Children will have also have the chance to compete for their very own Ashes Urn as 1,500 replica urns are distributed to Chance to Shine schools around the country thanks to the partnership with MCC.

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