The story behind cricketing charity Chance to Shine

The organisations is a shining star for the sport in state schools

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Ask any cricket fan what their main memory of the summer of 2005 is and they will tell you: winning the Ashes back after 16 years of Australian dominance.

In truth, though, there was another cricketing event that, understandably, did not warrant such attention: the birth of the cricketing charity Chance to Shine.

Cricket chose to celebrate its 2005 sporting triumph by moving the game away from terrestrial television so that the only connection many inner-city young children had with the sport was through the charity.

The charity reaches the parts other organisations could not reach. Proof comes in its 10th-anniversary literature, which tells the story of Rebecca Ayton, the head coach of the England deaf team.

“I can tell you stories that would make your hair curl,” she tells Chance to Shine. “I’ve known nine-year-olds in gangs, with weapons under their beds. I had one kid who turned up to a session covered in bruises after his 10th birthday – 10 is the age of criminal consent so his dad could no longer push him through windows to burgle homes.

“We kid ourselves  that poverty is only a problem in developing countries, but we aren’t dealing with it in our backyard.”

Ayton once ended up in hospital after a mass brawl – she had picked two teams from a school to play each other, little knowing that she had placed two pupils who had just been fighting on opposite sides. A scuffle broke out and – as she went to restrain one of the perpetrators – she received a blow to the kidneys.

The regional authority instructed her to withdraw from the school on the grounds that it could no longer guarantee her safety. She refused and persevered with the programme.

Chance to Shine’s mission is to bring cricket to the 88 per cent of state schools that have dropped it from the curriculum. It’s true to say that the sport probably needs the charity even more now than it did in 2005.