Monday, February 10, 2014
North Norfolk schoolgirl Lillie Edwards has become a national one-in-a-million cricketer, it was announced today.
The 12-year-old Cromer Academy pupil has been picked by schools’ cricket charity Chance to Shine as the one millionth girl to enjoy a scheme aimed at keeping the so-called “Gentleman’s Game” alive in schools.
Since 2005 Chance to Shine’s programme has brought competitive cricket to more than two million pupils in 9,000 state schools, using a £7.5m Sport England grant to try and stop teenagers dropping out of sport.
It has also successfully taught young people key life skills such as teamwork, discipline and respect, and unearthed hidden talent.
The funding has helped the charity set up satellite clubs at schools like Cromer Academy where girls from all year groups have formed a girls’ cricket squad and now lead a range of activity from designing the team’s kit to arranging and playing matches in tournaments.
Lillie said: “It’s important that girls play cricket as girls can do anything that boys can do. It’s important that boys and everyone else remembers that!”
When England women’s cricket captain Charlotte Edwards, fresh from the team’s Ashes victory in Australia, heard about the one millionth girl, she sent a congratulatory message to the charity on its fantastic achievement.
Cromer Academy head teacher Penny Bignell said the response to the Chance to Shine scheme had been huge. Girls really wanted to do the same sports as boys.
“The best thing is that it isn’t just for people to play cricket, it’s that they’re part of running the squad and the team. So it’s involved a wide circle of girls from all different year groups.”
The scheme’s other success stories include close friends Becky Cole, 13, Hannah Free, 13, and Jade Hoyte, 12, from Attleborough, who first learned to play cricket through Chance to Shine at their primary school. The girls now all attend Attleborough High School where they still receive coaching through the programme.
Last year they were chosen for the Norfolk U13 squad. Becky said: “I was so excited, I couldn’t believe it. No one in my family plays cricket.” Jade added: “I was in shock, but I was proud of myself”. Hannah said she would love to play for England: “but for now I’m just so happy to be selected for the county team.”
A decade ago, cricket was on the decline in state schools with fewer than 10pc of them playing any form of competitive cricket. For many schoolgirls, cricket was not offered at all.
Chance to Shine was now starting to reverse that decline, according to a spokesman. Last year 46pc of pupils involved in the Chance to Shine programme were girls.
■ To find out more, and for ways to get involved, visit chancetoshine.org
■ Is your school successful in keeping teenagers involved in sport? Contact: email@example.com