Young cricketers, cricket coaches and constables recognised at first ever ‘StreetChance Awards’

Young people from across London joined two England international cricketers, the Metropolitan Police Service’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner and the Children’s Minister at Lord’s on Tuesday 12 July to celebrate the inaugural ‘StreetChance supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports Awards’.

The Awards marked the third anniversary of the inner-city ‘StreetChance’ cricket initiative set up to help combat youth crime and anti-social behaviour in London and recognised those who have contributed to the success of the programme. StreetChance is a partnership between five organisations: Chance to Shine, Cricket for Change, Barclays Spaces for Sports, Positive Futures and the Metropolitan Police Service.

The awards ceremony, held on the Roof Terrace of the Lord’s Pavilion, was hosted by the BBC’s cricket commentator Alison Mitchell. Joining her at the Awards were England fast bowlers Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn, fresh from their success in the One Day International series against Sri Lanka, and former England captain Mike Gatting. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh represented the Metropolitan Police Service; while there was Government support from Minister for Children Families Tim Loughton.

The Minister presented the first award – Young Leader of the Year – to an individual young person who has shown outstanding leadership on and off the cricket pitch. Ellie Mallin, 13, from Sutton scooped the award and was described by her StreetChance coach Beth Evans as the glue that holds all the girls together. In their citation, the judges said, despite initial shyness, over the last year (Ellie) has matured into a confident young women. Always encouraging others, arranging travel for competitions and constantly feeding back on ways to improve sessions.

The ‘Outstanding Player Award’, presented by Steven Finn, recognised the most improved and committed player in the programme. Pravin Perera, 14, was one of the first youngsters to join the community session at Waltham Forest and since then has rarely missed a session. His community coach described Pravin as improving as a cricketer every time he sees him play and went on to say that he “could go on to play at a very high level.”

Donovan Miller was the winner of the Coach of the Year Award which he received from Jade Dernbach. Voted on by youngsters at inter-borough cricket competitions, the award recognised the coach who had made the greatest impact on participants this year. The young people described Miller as making them ‘feel at home’, while ‘building up trust’ and injecting a culture of cricketing progression, responsibility and above all, enjoyment. After collecting his award, Miller paid tribute to the StreetChance participants saying, “I feel proud to win the award and most of all I’d like to dedicate the award to all the young people who turn up to the community sessions, on some cold wet and winter nights, every week right through the year. It’s a massive effort and this award should go back to them.”

Dernbach, who had earlier had a go at the tapeball form of cricket used in StreetChance, said, “took me back to my roots as that’s when I first started playing cricket at school. You’d tape up a tennis ball during lessons and couldn’t wait to get out at lunch time. It brought back a lot of memories, how much fun playing cricket is at such a young age…You learn a lot about yourself and you can take your mind off everything else as you plough all your effort and energy into that one thing.

The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Khaled Ahmed, 17, from Tower Hamlets who according to the judges has progressed seamlessly from becoming a player through to an assistant coach, leader and mentor for his young charges.

The next award recognised the outstanding contribution of local police officers, PCSOs and Safer Neighbourhood Teams across London. The Peace at the Crease Award went to the William Morris Ward Safer Neighbourhood Team for their efforts on the StreetChance project at the Priory Court Estate, Waltham Forest. Led initially by PC Mike Dignam and with unstinting effort from PCSO Ali Katkin, who collected the award with Acting Sergeant Saheed Khan, the local police have used StreetChance sessions and competitions to forge an excellent relationship with the keys workers at the Priory Court Community Centre, the coaches, the participants themselves and the wider community.

DAC Stephen Kavanagh presented the award and afterwards said, “Tonight was about industry, commerce and police recognising that young lives are at stake. Sport has enormous potential for change and StreetChance is making the most of that opportunity.”

The final award of the night was the Special Recognition Award presented by Kirk Harrison, Head of Barclays Spaces for Sports, a principal partner in StreetChance. The award recognised a special contribution made by an individual to the StreetChance programme since its launch. Jaffer Baloch, 17, from Southwark scooped the award for his dedication and willingness to support the development of the programme over the last three years. The judges praised his natural leadership skills and having undertaken work experience and become a StreetChance Apprentice coach, Jaffer is well on his way to becoming a coach himself and inspiring the next generation of youngsters across London to become a part of StreetChance and reap the same benefits he has for the last few years.

Collecting his award, Jaffer said, “I was a guy from the streets of Southwark and now you see me here today getting this award…it has changed me a lot, motivated me and given me a bright future. I hope to become a more senior coach and it’s all thanks to StreetChance and the coaches that have helped me.”

Steven Finn summed up the mood of the night saying, “It’s great to see young people passionate about cricket and moving the game forward. It’s massively important for game getting better and producing very good cricketers, as this is where it all starts. Cricket brings passion, fun and a sense of camaraderie you don’t get in other sports.”

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